The President’s Elliott Abrams Problem: Bush Should Consult Flynt Leverett Immediately

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My colleague Flynt Leverett has just published a superb American Prospect article that I discuss below — but its sensibleness compels me to start with concerns about the President’s key advisor on the Middle East, Elliott Abrams.
Few would question that Elliott Abrams is a brilliant guy. In many ways, he’s a much more sophisticated version of the bombastic John Bolton, who has been quite successful in a pugnacious way at promulgating Jesse Helms’ vision of American foreign policy — as disagreeable and alarming as most find that to be.
But Abrams is a great strategist. Many like him, but he is a shape-shifter when it comes to figuring out who he ultimately works for and collaborates with. Sometimes his boss is Stephen Hadley. Sometimes it is Cheney himself or Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington. Other times, Abrams works hard to convince Condi’s people that he is on their side — though they know not to trust him. George Bush is so unclear about the direction he wants to go that in times when Abrams needs ambiguity, Bush is saluted as his task-master.
Abrams is Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy (with a special focus on Middle East Affairs), and he is one of Israel’s protectors, defenders, and key stewards in the White House. Frankly, there are many defenders of Israeli security in the White House — and I would be one as well, but not exclusively at the cost of long-term stability in the Middle East that secures ‘both’ Israeli and Arab interests.
If he was also concerned about America’s state of relations over the long term with the Arab Middle East in addition to Israel’s security, Abrams’ hyper-closeness to Israel would not be a problem. But Abrams has done much to inculcate many in the White House that helping Israel ultimately means not yielding credible progress on an Israel-Palestine deal or not progressing on deal-making with other Arab neighbors.
Abrams has helpd turn the Middle East into a zero sum game between the US and Israel on one side and Arab states on the other. As Senator Chuck Hagel stated in a powerful speech at Brookings recently, juxtaposing Israel security against our interests in the Middle East is a dangerous “false choice” that must be avoided.
Elliott Abrams is pushing that so-called “false choice” in his current job and is undermining Condi Rice’s efforts as well as long-term Israeli security. He is preempting moves that might lead ultimately to peace and stability in the Middle East, and in the end, he’s harming America’s foreign policy portfolio — damaged as that already is from running into a quagmire in Iraq.
Abrams should be suspended in his current position; recused because of his bias and blind-spots on Middle East policy and assigned a new task — like getting the federal budget balanced, or some other herculean effort that might satisfy Abrams’ pretensions without causing the nation much damage.
The person the President should consult with in his stead is Flynt Leverett, my new colleague at the New America Foundation (and I should hasten to add here that Flynt Leverett not only does not know I am preparing this post but will probably object).


Leverett’s brilliant expose, “Illusion and Reality: The Case for Negotiation,” which appears as the just released cover story of the American Prospect ought to be the National Security Council brief to the President on the direction this nation needs to go to correct the mess that only shows signs of worsening if current policies continue. Leverett’s article is written dispassionately and critiques the administration for its choices but also Democrats for their failures as well.
Read every word of this article — every word, and imagine you are President of the United States receiving a surprise briefing from Flynt Leverett instead of Elliott Abrams, who was up in the Senate talking to Pete Domenici about the budget instead of initiating a war against Syria. Let’s just imagine that Leverett refused to put his brief in one-page because the situation is so bad and insisted the President read three pages, with a short list of “what to do” items that could in fact be put on one page.
This document that the American Prospect has run reflects what most sensible Republican and Democratic strategists agree needs to be done in the Middle East. There is enormous (mostly unspoken) consensus between the sort of proposals Leverett is offering. It is important then to realize what damage someone like Abrams is doing by distancing the White House from such strategies. Cheney, Addington, Bolton, and others are complicit — but this time it’s really Abrams that is keeping the President isolated from a sensible policy path that would track somwhat close — by necessity — to what Flynt Leverett has written.
Let me just highlight some of the many points I found illuminating in this important piece. I’m just going to number some of them to help those who don’t have time to read the article get the gist of its brilliance:

1. Leverett opens by describing that he was one of a few who worked most of the night of September 11, 2001 to produce a “diplomatic strategy for assembling an international coalition” in response to the attacks that day. In other words, Powell and others knew that lining up nations on our side — diplomatically — was vital for success. In addition, Leverett helped co-author a “comprehensive diplomatic strategy” for supporting a so-called war on terrorism, and this plan included deal-making with states to end support for anti-Israel terrorism in return for “positive strategic relationships with Washington.” Developing a credible plan to lead Israel and Palestine towards a credible, two-state solution was also part of this package.
2. America was to use carrots, not just sticks in moving actors in the international system. By the time the administration had taken its unilateral turn, all that the administration pushed were sticks — no more carrots. “Traditional allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia” were implicitly threatened without much regard to our need for their stabilizing influence given other disruptions in the region we were planning to trigger.
3. Leverett’s unsentimental prognosis now reads:

Three and a half years after the invasion of Iraq and five years after 9-11, the outbreak of armed conflict between Israel and radical groups in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon has revealed how badly the president’s chosen Middle East strategy has damaged the interests of the Unite States and its allies in the region. . .It is far from clear that the administration, or sadly, opposition Democrats will learn the right lessons from this episode. If they do not, the United States will likely suffer further damage to its position in the Middle East, with dangerous implications for America’s ability to protect its interests and ensure the long-term security of Israel.

4. Leverett profiles the consequences of abandoning the “realist legacy” in the White House foreign policy decision making process and argues that in consequence, “over the last five years, U.S. policy in the Middle East has emboldened radicals and weakened moderates.”
I would personally add to this that our policy has united America’s enemies and divided our friends, further undermining America’s ability to achieve its global objectives.
5. Leverett suggests that the administration’s democratization agenda — pursued on the cheap — has been utterly disastrous. He writes “the administration’s three examples of US-engineered democratic empowerment in the region — Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon — are all basket cases.”
6. One of the most interesting sections of this fascinating piece was Leverett’s confirmation that there is a dramatic fault line between Ismail Haniya and those in government from Hamas in Palestine and Khalid Meshal in Damascus who is in control of Hamas’ “external branch.” The closer Haniya came to securing de facto recognition of Israel and working out a compromise on such with Mahmoud Abbas, the harder Meshal worked to “re-radicalize the Arab-Israeli arena” and undermine the authority and legitimacy of Haniya. What is incredible is that America let Meshal get away with this — and accidentally or perhaps intentionally — the US helped undermine the best chance Israel and Abbas and we had to pacify Hamas and break from it its militant wing, which then might have been isolated and perhaps even crushed by recognized legitimate authority holding power in the Palestinian government.
7. Leverett suggests that the administration’s direction, at this point, is tough to alter. He writes: “Although Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her team seem sporadically motivated to try to take policy in a more realist direction, their impact remains limited to tactical matters.” In other words, Leverett is arguing that Rice — even if she had the right instincts — does not know how or is unwilling to play a winning hand against Cheney and Co.
8. Leverett just doesn’t suggest that American strategy is completely moribund and counter-productive in the Middle East. He offers a way out, in five parts:

a. The United States needs to widen its approach to defusing the current crisis to include direct engagement with both Syria and Iran;
b. The United States should convey its interest in a broader strategic dialogue with the al-Assad regime in Damascus, with the aim of re-establishing US-Syrian cooperation on important regional issues and with the promise of significant strategic benefits for Syria clearly on the table;
c. Washington should indicate its willingness to pursue a “grand bargain” with Iran, in which the Islamic republic would accept restraints on its nuclear activities and abandon its support for the terrorist activities of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah in return for US commitments not to use force to change Iran’s borders or form of government, to lift unilateral sanctions, and to normalize bilateral relations;
d. The United States and key partners should articulate a more substantive vision for a two-state solution to the Palestinian question, including paramaters for resolving key final-status issues that would meet the minimum requirements of both sides. This vision should incorporate the Saudi-initiated Arab League peace plan;
e. While the Unites States should engage moderate Arab partners more systematically on economic reform and human rights, Washington should drop its insistence on early resort t open electoral processes as a litmus test for “democratization.”
Concurring with Leverett, this is what Richard Haass, currently President of the Council on Foreign Relations, has termed “ballotocracy.”

9. Leverett also reminds readers that Kissinger was only partial parent to the kind of realism applied to American foreign policy. He writes:

. . .it was the 20th century’s greatest Democratic secretary of state, Dean Acheson, who defined a fundamentally realist paradigm for U.S. foreign policy in Europe during the Truman administration that laid the foundations for eventual peaceful victory in the Cold War.

One of the depressing factors about modern geo-strategic realities is that while Leverett and many others think that the time we are in in the Middle East is actually ripe for “grand bargain” strategic solutions that achieve fascinating and important new opportunities and equilibriums — there are no Kissingers, Achesons, Brzezinskis, or Scowcrofts in sight to move us there.

Much like Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation once told to me, Leverett concludes his piece with “realism has become the truly progressive position on foreign policy.”
I hope that some smart policy entrepreneur figures out a way to steal Flynt Leverett’s core logic of this piece — and his systematic treatment of costs and opportunities associated with various policy choices facing America in the Middle East — and pastes them together for a presidential briefing memo.
While I am lucky to be working with Leverett at the New America Foundation on a wide array of subjects, it became clear to me after reading this article that this piece really should have been written for the President of the United States.
— Steve Clemons
Update: Flynt Leverett will be speaking at the New America Foundation about this article on September 5. Email me if you would like an invitation. Michael Tomasky, Editor of The American Prospect and I will both be offering some extra commentary as well.
Also, if you would like to download a pdf version of this article, do so by clicking here.

Comments

100 comments on “The President’s Elliott Abrams Problem: Bush Should Consult Flynt Leverett Immediately

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    Reply

  2. Duckman GR says:

    I second what profmarcus said at August 23, 2006 08:39 AM.
    after six years of bush demonstrating that he consults no one outside of his pre-approved inner circle, chief among them, karl rove, for you to put someone forward and suggesting advice for him to give george is, imho, a serious waste of bandwidth… the bush administration is immune to conventional reason, principled arguments, thoughtful discussion, alternative solutions, and essentially anything that does not further their agenda of global hegemony and the accumulation of raw power… i would much rather see your considerable talents used to figure out how to get them out of office by the most expeditious means possible while there is still something left to salvage in our country…
    They don’t do policy, they only do politics.

    Reply

  3. Pissed Off American says:

    for the record, i disagree with most of what the Pissed Off American says above, but i’ve decided that i’m too tired and too bored to continue with this lame excuse for dialogue
    shame on you, poa.
    Posted by alec
    Apparently not so tired that you could not expend the time to complain to Steve about your “treatment” here, alec.
    And once again, I have tried to reassure Steve that I will attempt to “behave” on this forum. Unfortunately, due to your complete refusal to debate the issues in anything other than the manner we see above, and in other threads, where you neglect to qualify your opinions with direct answers to direct queries, it is probably in the best interests of this blog, and Steve’s peace of mind, that I ignore you.
    I am well aware that such a proclamation is a direct invitation for you to redouble your efforts to find ALL my buttons, and see how successful you can be at having me banned by a combination of your irritating nattering here on the blog coupled with an occassional behind the scenes snivel to Steve.
    So, alec, consider yourself dismissed, albiet reluctantly. In truth, I was curious how much crow you could consume in one sitting. Oh well, perhaps, for our amusement, Alicia will finish feeding you.
    Adios. I will no respond to you.

    Reply

  4. Pissed Off American says:

    Is Bush a sociopath? I don’t think so. It might be more comforting if he was. There would at least be a clear and consistent profile. No, what I think is really going on is a series of borderline personality disorders which interact in unpredictable ways. His behaviour and personality are diverging well beyond social norms, and completely inappropriate for his office.
    Posted by Den Valdron
    I personally think Bush was chosen for his position because his particular combination of character defects add up to an individual that is extremely malleable, and easily moved by suggestion. Bush woulda drank the Kool-aid at Jonestown.

    Reply

  5. Pissed Off American says:

    for the record, i disagree with most of what the Pissed Off American says above, but i’ve decided that i’m too tired and too bored to continue with this lame excuse for dialogue
    shame on you, poa.
    Posted by alec
    Dismissed.

    Reply

  6. alec says:

    for the record, i disagree with most of what the Pissed Off American says above, but i’ve decided that i’m too tired and too bored to continue with this lame excuse for dialogue
    shame on you, poa.

    Reply

  7. Den Valdron says:

    I’m not saying you lied about your social justice card, Alec. You played yours. I played mine. That’s how it goes.
    Is Bush a sociopath? I don’t think so. It might be more comforting if he was. There would at least be a clear and consistent profile. No, what I think is really going on is a series of borderline personality disorders which interact in unpredictable ways. His behaviour and personality are diverging well beyond social norms, and completely inappropriate for his office.

    Reply

  8. Pissed Off American says:

    “I HAVE NEVER DEFENDED OR EVEN COMMENTED ON THIS POLICY.”
    Well, alec, thats my point. I have repeatedly questioned you about certain policies practiced by Israel, and you have repeatedly chosen to ignore those queries, choosing instead to attack my rhetoric or my posting style, while proffessing to be an advocate of avoiding ad hominem attack.
    “and, i’m not sure that it does make israel safer.”
    Then, if it does not make Israel safer, what could possibly be the motive, alec? You constantly pick bone with Carroll and my assertion that Israel is enaged in a policy of genocide, yet you provide no rationale for Israel’s policies of destroying farmlands, targeting infrastructures, and engaging in extreme sabotage of the Palestinian’s societal well-being, such as dropping “soundbombs” over the Palestian population, depriving the Palestinians of access to their jobs and educations through purposelly lengthy screening processes at checkpoints, denying convoys of essential goods access to Gaza. The list goes on and on. OK alec, if such policies are not designed to kill Muslims, yet do not make Israel safer, than clue us in, alec, what ARE these policies designed to do?
    “i could be wrong, but didn’t bush call bin laden and his suicidal, islamist army evildoers? i think that he referred to iran, syria and n korea as the “axis of evil” in a state of the union speech, which i thought was idiotic. but, i don’t see the point in comparing and contrasting rhetoric. i’m not sure how i can.”
    Yeah, but alec, I pointed out Bush’s insane rhetoric in response to your comment….
    “given the extremely belicose rhetoric emanating from iran’s mullahs and “elected” (wink, wink) leaders, i don’t think that “to argue otherwise is asinine to the extreme.””
    What makes Iran’s mullah’s comments any more “belicose” than Bush’s?? And if you think Iran’s mullah’s “belicose” rhetoric telegraphs a possible willingness to use nuclear weaponry, why doesn’t Bush’s “bellicose” rhetoric telegraph the same willingness?
    (By the way, we could also throw a couple “wink winks” at Bush over his supposed “elected” status, couldn’t we?)
    “i’ve never seen anything like this in my short life. that being said, poa, i wouldn’t want to live in tehran. this country has serious problems. this country has very skewed priorities. our society is ignorant in many ways. that being said, i wouldn’t want to live in damascus. i wouldn’t rather be ruled by hamas than by the this country’s republicans.”
    Nobody is asking you to move to Tehran, are they? So what do we do now, alec, bomb the shit out of ’em because you don’t want to live there?

    Reply

  9. alec says:

    “I don’t really know anything about Alec’s professional life than what he tells me. But if he plays his social justice card, I’ll play mine.”
    why would i lie about what i do?! why would i waste my time. but, if it makes everyone feel better, you’re right, poa, i’m really a… a… landscape architect.
    “If he gets nasty on me, that tends to be a major mistake.”
    excuse me?! why all the posturing and histrionics in here? bizarre.
    “Alec comes with a point of view, and in many particulars, such as his approach to the Palestinians, I see this as seriously mistaken. That said, you, Carroll and Alicia have done a thorough job dismantling unsustainable opinions on him.”
    exactly what point of view do i “come with”? what exactly is my approach to the palestinians?? does anyone care to put more words in my mouth? the swift boat veterans for truth ain’t got nothing on some of you. wow.
    “ways that are destructive to its own long term interests. They’re ‘we’ve got a hammer, so every problem is a nail’ approach ignores the fact that they have a fully equipped machine shop.”
    agreed. but let’s not forget about the fact that hezbollah and hamas have ALSO behaved very badly.
    “Bush is not classicly insane in a criminal sense. What he is, unfortunately is an addictive personality suffering from ideational fixations, add to this a deeply ingrained and well documented sadism, poor handling of stress, a tendency towards cowardice, runaway egocentrism, and a pronounced laziness in thought and defective thought process… well, we’re all in a shitload of trouble.”
    i actually think that guy may be a sociopath. no conscience. what do you think?

    Reply

  10. alec says:

    ok, poa. here ya go:
    Isn’t it Ironic that ISRAEL is the country that defied world concensus on nuclear proliferation, and developed their nuclear weapons clandestinely in underground bunkers? (1)
    not really. where is the irony?
    “What is to stop some Israeli BUTCHER like Ohlmert from nuking Iran if their is no deterence, no spectre of MAD looming over such an action?”
    in my humble opinion, this is a completely foolish statement. i doubt that you’ll find many people who think this has ANYTHING to do with iran’s motivation.
    . Tell me, alec, how does bulldozing the livelyhoods of Palestinian farmers counter the influence of Hamas??? (3) How does such an action make Israel safer from hatred and the resultant violence??? (4)
    I HAVE NEVER DEFENDED OR EVEN COMMENTED ON THIS POLICY. and, i’m not sure that it does make israel safer.
    “Bush not only defined certain nations as “evildoers”, he has also pledged to destroy the “evildoers”. How does that differ from the rhetoric coming out of Iran??? (5)”
    i could be wrong, but didn’t bush call bin laden and his suicidal, islamist army evildoers? i think that he referred to iran, syria and n korea as the “axis of evil” in a state of the union speech, which i thought was idiotic. but, i don’t see the point in comparing and contrasting rhetoric. i’m not sure how i can.
    we all agree that our country is in big trouble after 6 years of bushco and republican rule. rove has bitterly divided the coutry. i’ve never seen anything like this in my short life. that being said, poa, i wouldn’t want to live in tehran. this country has serious problems. this country has very skewed priorities. our society is ignorant in many ways. that being said, i wouldn’t want to live in damascus. i wouldn’t rather be ruled by hamas than by the this country’s republicans.

    Reply

  11. Pissed Off American says:

    Speaking of Bush…..
    Students told `Yale Shmale’
    Lakehead unveils edgy PR campaign
    Takes aim at Bush’s Ivy League roots
    Aug. 26, 2006. 09:30 AM
    DANIEL GIRARD
    EDUCATION REPORTER
    Consider it a weapon of mass attraction.
    Lakehead University is poking fun at U.S. President George W. Bush and his Ivy League alma mater in an edgy new guerrilla marketing campaign intended to lure students to its Thunder Bay campus.
    Dubbed “Yale Shmale,” the $100,000 promotion features an image of Bush — Yale University, Class of 1968 — on posters that will be plastered on construction sites and other outdoor locations across the Greater Toronto Area.
    “Graduating from an Ivy League university doesn’t necessarily mean you’re smart,” reads the second of two posters set for release, “Choosing Lakehead does.”
    continues at..
    http://tinyurl.com/fxlat

    Reply

  12. Den Valdron says:

    Well, POA, I find diplomacy useful. It’s fun to exercise, and if it doesn’t work, then it adds a frisson of righteousness to what would otherwise be an apocalyptic display of petty sadism on my part. I really, really enjoy going to town on someone’s ass, but I recognize it as a major character flaw and so I go out of my way to avoid it.
    I don’t really know anything about Alec’s professional life than what he tells me. But if he plays his social justice card, I’ll play mine.
    If he gets nasty on me, that tends to be a major mistake.
    Alec comes with a point of view, and in many particulars, such as his approach to the Palestinians, I see this as seriously mistaken. That said, you, Carroll and Alicia have done a thorough job dismantling unsustainable opinions on him.
    At this point, I’ll disagree with you that Iran wants nukes. I think that their assessment of their own strategic priorities is that they’re better served investing in Kamikazes and Ship destroying missiles, or anti-aircraft weaponry in the short term. In the long term, they don’t see Americans as lasting, so they don’t see the strong need for a nuclear deterrent. Again, I’ve written on this….
    At the same time, I think Israel’s behaved extremely badly, and in ways that are destructive to its own long term interests. They’re ‘we’ve got a hammer, so every problem is a nail’ approach ignores the fact that they have a fully equipped machine shop.
    Bush is not classicly insane in a criminal sense. What he is, unfortunately is an addictive personality suffering from ideational fixations, add to this a deeply ingrained and well documented sadism, poor handling of stress, a tendency towards cowardice, runaway egocentrism, and a pronounced laziness in thought and defective thought process… well, we’re all in a shitload of trouble.

    Reply

  13. Pissed Off American says:

    Well, by posting blatant lies, for one thing, such as you did when you first posted here. And your consant avoidance of answering serious queries, choosing instead to post unsubstantive critiques regarding a poster’s rhetoric or style. Also, by claiming not to want to engage in ad hominem, while doing exactly that, constantly and unabashedly. But really, it is the deeper deception that oozes out of your every comment that I find disgusting. It is the complete and total misrepresentation of yourself, that my gut tells me you are engaging in, that really frosts my gizzard.
    Could I be wrong??? Yeah, maybe. But I don’t think so. Your first posts here lend my perceptions their credibility.
    You don’t like it? Too bad. But I have already seen what alec came here with, and the postured charade we see above bears little resemblance to your opening salvos here. I stand by my assessment of you alec. Ignore it, or harp on it, I could care less. But if you are going to alter my assessment, it won’t be by posting the sort of dubious mental masturbation we see above.
    Here, you want to alter my perception of you as a fraud and a troll? Answer the 5 questions I posed to you in the following, instead of picking one sentence out of the post so that you can engage in the very kind of ad hominem horseshit you claim you do not want to engage in….
    ………..
    Isn’t it Ironic that ISRAEL is the country that defied world concensus on nuclear proliferation, and developed their nuclear weapons clandestinely in underground bunkers? (1)
    And yes, alec, I do understand Iran’s desire for nuclear weapons, particularly considering Israel’s complete disdain for human rights or for international protocol. What is to stop some Israeli BUTCHER like Ohlmert from nuking Iran if their is no deterence, no spectre of MAD looming over such an action?
    Has Israel shown us they have any regard for world opinion, or for the lives of Muslims??? (2)Just look at Lebanon, where there are TENS OF THOUSANDS of unexploded cluster bomblets littering the country. Guess what, alec, the rate of failure for these bomblets is less than ten percent. That means that HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of these bomblets were rained on the population of Lebanon. These kinds of bomblets are DIRECT EVIDENCE that Israel was targeting the civilian population of Lebanon. And even as we speak Israel is razing Palestinian olive groves with bulldozers in yet another incursion into Gaza. Tell me, alec, how does bulldozing the livelyhoods of Palestinian farmers counter the influence of Hamas??? (3) How does such an action make Israel safer from hatred and the resultant violence??? (4)
    Of course Iran wants nukes. And their desire is reasonable, wise, and perfectly understandable.
    And if we are truly concerned about Nuclear proliferation, we should throw this fucker Bush out on his ear. HE is the one allocating billions to develop new nuclear weaponry. HE is the one advocating using nuclear weapons pre-emptively. HE is the one threatening soveriegn nations with nuclear attack. HE is the one abandoning the wisdom of MAD.
    On one point I can agree with you. Ranting fanatics should never have their fingers on the nuclear trigger, it is far too dangerous. That is why Ohlmert and Bush are such a threat to the world community. Bush not only defined certain nations as “evildoers”, he has also pledged to destroy the “evildoers”. How does that differ from the rhetoric coming out of Iran??? (5)

    Reply

  14. alec says:

    poa:
    deception?!
    how, pray tell, am i deceiving anyone here?! does a screen name really matter? does anyone here have any idea who you really are? at least, i’m using my real first name 😉 do i need to post my CV or a link to my professional credentials to have my opinions taken seriously? if you really get down to it, does it matter if i’m a car salesman as opposed to a consultant for an international, nonsectarian relief and development organization?
    further, why do you insist on labeling me a “troll”?! because i disagree with you? because i don’t share your worldview? because i occassionaly take exception to your rhetoric and your demeanor? because i think that your anger and hostility is misguided and demonstrative of ignorance rather than enlightenment?
    excuse me for taking offense when you refer to me as “horseshit,” but i do!!! for someone who professes to be a champion of right over wrong; for the victims and the persecuted of the world, you sure do victimize and persecute others!!
    again, i believe that you do yourself and your ideas a GREAT disservice when yhou conduct yourself in this manner.
    i’m not necessarily in favor of anyone being banned from this blog, but i DO hope that you immediately cease from “dumbing down” this blog with your personal invective! surely, you must have SOMETHING better to do.
    sheesh.

    Reply

  15. Pissed Off American says:

    Den,I suspect you are being more diplomatic than you are honest with your last post. The altruism that alec lays claim to in his stated life’s proffession is completely polar to the atitude he came here with, and polar to his representation of his opinions of the situation in the middle east. If human rights and altruistic ideals are your life’s pursuit, and you have more than two brain cells to rub together, it is simply IMPOSSIBLE to form the opinions alec has voiced about the situation in the middle east. You can ignore the GLARING similarities we saw in the posts of Brian, David, Zeke, and alec if you wish, but I have posted on far too many blogs, for far too long, to have failed to see a familiar pattern of troll behaviour exhibited by one individual utilizing multiple screen names. I believe in your assessment that politeness and civility are not always the correct course of action. How many times do we see our media calling the statements of this administration “errors” or “mistakes”, or “based on faulty intelligence” when in fact we were told LIES, we all KNOW they were LIES, and they should in fact be called LIES? Well, I apologize to Steve, but I am not about to pander to what I percieve as deception. Alec came here lying, by posting such a ridulously transparent untruth that it was virtually IMPOSSIBLE to see it as anything other than a blatant attempt at deception. That IS NOT the kind of action that one would expect from an individual pursuing the course that alec would have us believe he is pursuing.
    If nothing else, I like to read conviction. ANY opinion, expressed with conviction, is well worth considering. But when deception is used to advance an idea or policy, it clearly calls into question the moral value of that opinion or policy, as well as the MOTIVE for advancing the opinion or policy.
    Sorry, but alec is as phony as a three dollar bill. And all one need do to realize it is read his intial postings here, and compare them to the sacharin and self agrandizing horseshit we see above.
    Sorry Steve. Ban me if you must, but if being allowed to post here means I must ignore my own perceptions, than it is time to move on anyway. This is ALL about descerning deception. ALL these issues. And if you don’t think that deception is being hawked on the internet as heavily as it is being hawked in the MSM, than I have a Saddam/Al Qaeda connection I’ll sell ya.

    Reply

  16. alec says:

    thanks for your thoughtful message, den. i really appreciate what you have to say.
    my response:
    you wrote:
    “i’m a lawyer whose lifelong practice has been in the area of social justice, most of it focused on helping natives and the poor. I’ve challenged racism, stood against billion dollar corporations. I’ve travelled, not any place interesting, but to poor and out of the way places in remote regions, the sorts of places where people get left behind.”
    you have my utmost respect for the work you do. advocating for the under-represented is surely an example of “right livelihood.”
    you wrote:
    “Probably no one gets a lot of fundraising done, shouting outrage to the heavens and shaking their fist at the powers. Those powers are less likely to open their wallets to that kind of attitude.”
    well, actually this is not entirely true. first of all, i am not primarily raising money from the “powers that be.” i do very, very little institutional solicitation. most of our organization’s donors are individual, private citizens like you and me. average donation in the hundreds rather than the thousands and in my experience, very little fundraising gets done WITHOUT “shouting outrage at the heavens.” passion and intensity are the tools of my trade. many people need to be shamed into giving ANYTHING to anyone less fortunate than themselves. ours is an extremely self-absorbed and selfish society which just so happens to be the richest society in the history of the universe! outrage is the ONLY hope for the 1 billion human beings living in absolute poverty. i cultivate it, i channel it and i use it every day.
    you wrote:
    “At the same time, as often as not, those powers create or contribute to the problem in the first place.”
    i agree with you and i’ll raise you one point: we are ALL contributing to the problem! me, you, poa… all of us. i truly believe in the jungian concept of “collective consciousness.” and though i wish i could be so oblivious to the harsh reality, every time we turn our air-conditioners down a few degrees, get in our vehicles, power up our laptops or take a trip to circuit city or the mall, WE are contributing to the problem.
    and to take this point one step further, in the immortal (paraphrased) words of MLK, “you can’t transform hatred with hatred or anger with anger… only love, compassion and patience can do that.
    in the end, heaping acrimony on acrimony, we only end up with more acrimony, not justice.
    you wrote:
    “I think that the biggest problem facing the American people is complacency.”
    i completely agree.
    you wrote:
    “If things are occasionally acrimonius, that’s just the way life is. We are here to debate and challenge each other. We are here because we sense something going wrong. P.O.A.’s anger and intensity are justified.”
    i agree that our reality is much less than ideal. it always has been. hopefully we are growing and improving incrementally, but still the world is filled with tremendous suffering.
    we are here to debate and challenge each other… but… i think that we should be doing so without attacking each other as well. i don’t believe in vigilanteism, but maybe my objective is different from others.
    poa is just a human being, like everyone else. we are ALL hypocrites. i’ve already learned in my short life that this is a fact. it is a part of human nature. i don’t blame her for being imperfect or ignorant… all adults are.
    i agree with you that “poa’s anger and intensity are justified.” after all life is pretty intense and anger is an emotion that we all embody. but, i don’t believe that her actions are wise or constructive. quite the opposite, actually.
    we all have ALOT of work to do. we should all be very busy figuring out to transform the ignorance and chaos threatening us more and more every day. we should all be racking our brains, our consciosnesses, and our souls to learn how to be part of a constructive solution, not to add to the surplus of hatred and acrimony that we’re already drowning in.
    is this, as poa said, “pure unadulterated crap”?
    i hope so, but i think not.
    have a good weekend, den.

    Reply

  17. Den Valdron says:

    I dunno Alec, in terms of social justice credits. I’m a lawyer whose lifelong practice has been in the area of social justice, most of it focused on helping natives and the poor. I’ve challenged racism, stood against billion dollar corporations. I’ve travelled, not any place interesting, but to poor and out of the way places in remote regions, the sorts of places where people get left behind.
    I certainly respect the work you do. But at the same time, your admittedly brief description suggests that in your line of work, there’s a necessary emphasis on presentation and style. Probably no one gets a lot of fundraising done, shouting outrage to the heavens and shaking their fist at the powers. Those powers are less likely to open their wallets to that kind of attitude.
    At the same time, as often as not, those powers create or contribute to the problem in the first place.
    For myself, I tend to be more about the practicalities and bottom lines. Process is all very nice, I can appreciate it. But in my line of work, I see all too much process, it often becomes a way of getting nothing done. Fixing problems is expensive, it can be cheaper to talk endlessly. Politeness can be a death sentence, literally.
    Sometimes unpleasant things need to be said in unpleasant ways. That’s a simple fact of life. It doesn’t mean that I disrespect you or your approach, it just means that the world is a larger place than either of us.
    I think that the biggest problem facing the American people is complacency. Elections are stolen, the electoral system is legally and illegally degraded, the fundamentals of the economy are eroded and your government runs amuk, recklessly invading or attacking other nations, erasing civil rights and re-instituting torture. And yet, all too much of the American public sit and merely blink.
    Well, except for the ones who, hyaena-like call for even more psychopathic behaviour. And in that sense, let me offer you all this link. Please read it, and read through the vile comments that follow…
    http://www.townhall.com/Columnists/WalterEWilliams/2006/08/23/will_the_west_defend_itself?page=full&comments=true
    In the end, Alec, it has to be the message, not the massage. It has to be the result, not the process.
    If things are occasionally acrimonius, that’s just the way life is. We are here to debate and challenge each other. We are here because we sense something going wrong. P.O.A.’s anger and intensity are justified.

    Reply

  18. alec says:

    how kind of you, poa.
    i REALLY hope that someday you cheer/wise up.
    goodnight.

    Reply

  19. PissedOff American says:

    What pure unadulterated crap.

    Reply

  20. alec says:

    thanks, MP. in my own way, i think i am.
    but the beauty of our shared existence is that it doesn’t take a lifetime dedicated to social service or social action to constitute a life well lived. i’ve always been inspired by the philosophy that says “if you save (improve) one person, it is as if you have saved the entire world.” unfortunately, the opposite also holds true.
    we each have opportunities every day to help transform the world for the better. i believe that even the smallest act can redeem the universe. unfortunately, the opposite also hold true. a simple smile can literally save a person’s life.
    as the great philosopher, moses maimonides, wrote:
    “One should see the world, and see himself as a scale with an equal balance of good and evil. When he does one good deed the scale is tipped to the good – he and the world is saved. When he does one evil deed the scale is tipped to the bad – he and the world is destroyed.”
    i’m heartened that some of the acrimony has dissipated from this blog. as i said along time ago (even though at times i was just as acrimonious as anybody), unbridled anger and hatred cannot birth peace and love; the very conditions we are all attempting to create are destroyed over and over again by the destructive nature of our lesser emotions.
    the same hold true for everyone.
    finally, i must say that i really admire the way that you have transformed your dialogue on this blog, MP. you have demonstrated, more than anyone here i’ve seen over the last six weeks, an ability to rise above the fray and respectfully disagree WITHOUT dehumanizing those you disagree with. …and as of late, carroll has also impressed me in this regard. kudos to both of you. many times i’ve fallen short in this respect, but nonetheless, i am inspired by your example. hopefully i can continue to learn, grow and improve.
    i hope everyone has a great weekend.

    Reply

  21. MP says:

    Alec wrote: “as i’ve already shared with this community, i work as a consultant with a non-profit, social welfare organization. i’ve helped raise and allocate millions of dollars to help people in need the world over; for the victims of hurricane katrina, the victims of the south asian tsunami and others. i’ve helped coordinate demonstrations against the genocide in southwestern sudan (darfur) and helped coordinate some relief efforts there as well.
    i’ve been fortunate enough to travel around the world, including the developing world and the middle east and i’ve learned alot along the way, including probably the most important lesson i’ve learned in my short life: perception and reality don’t always equate. many people would be well served to keep that in mind.”
    Very cool. Sounds like you’re living a life devoted to the good. I admire you, even envy you, and hope you keep your spirit up, your mind sharp, your heart open…and just keep keeping on. It sounds like you’re actually making a difference in the world.

    Reply

  22. alec says:

    poa wrote:
    “You must be very proud if yourself.”
    i am. thanks, poa.
    sorry that you don’t see me as an “asset to this blog” (i assume that you are being sarcastic). it has never been my intention to be an “asset,” but merely to comment. this is, after all, the “comments” section of someone else’s blog.
    i am an asset in other more substantial ways. i guess you could say that i’m an asset in meatspace as opposed to cyberspace.
    as i’ve already shared with this community, i work as a consultant with a non-profit, social welfare organization. i’ve helped raise and allocate millions of dollars to help people in need the world over; for the victims of hurricane katrina, the victims of the south asian tsunami and others. i’ve helped coordinate demonstrations against the genocide in southwestern sudan (darfur) and helped coordinate some relief efforts there as well.
    i’ve been fortunate enough to travel around the world, including the developing world and the middle east and i’ve learned alot along the way, including probably the most important lesson i’ve learned in my short life: perception and reality don’t always equate. many people would be well served to keep that in mind.
    no doubt, i’m a youngster (35) and i have alot more to learn. God willing, i’ll have the chance. but yes, poa, i do feel good about the life i’ve lived thus far.
    i sincerely hope that everyone can say the same. here’s to open hearts and open minds…
    cheers

    Reply

  23. Pissed Off American says:

    well, based on his comments on this blog, i’m not sure i agree with you on that one, MP. it seems to me that her anger clouds her judgement and the vile invective i’ve seen her toss around bears no relation to the pursuit of either truth or justice.
    Posted by alec
    I see you have abandoned the ad hominem crap, alec, and are now posting some real powerhouse info. Has anyone told you lately what a veritable wealth of information your posts contain?
    Man, what an asset to this blog you are. You must be very proud if yourself.

    Reply

  24. alec says:

    “POA is a passionate seeker of truth and justice”
    well, based on his comments on this blog, i’m not sure i agree with you on that one, MP. it seems to me that her anger clouds her judgement and the vile invective i’ve seen her toss around bears no relation to the pursuit of either truth or justice.

    Reply

  25. MP says:

    “it is ignorant, inflammatory and generally reflective of what i believe is a worldview that is EVERY BIT as out of touch with reality as the “neocons” you demonize.”
    Hey Alec,
    Here is what I would say to you about POA: Let his rhetorical excesses wash off you; let them go. You aren’t going to budge him, and it isn’t your job to do so.
    Benefit from POA’s links and the interesting and sometimes important facts he brings to the table. Take the good of which there is much, and leave the bad behind.
    Every so often a new person wanders into this blog and runs up against POA’s remarkable rhetorical style and has pretty much the same reaction you and I and others have had before him. It’s become sort of amusing to watch. A bit like watching Candid Camera, if you remember that show. “God” was the last one to wander unsuspectingly into this hailstorm of invective.
    POA is a passionate seeker of truth and justice, IMO, and that’s a good thing. Take the good; leave the bad alone. It’s his to deal with at the end of the day.

    Reply

  26. Pissed Off American says:

    “it is ignorant, inflammatory and generally reflective of what i believe is a worldview that is EVERY BIT as out of touch with reality as the “neocons” you demonize.”
    Posted by alec
    Ok alec, heres my post WITHOUT the “butcher comment”. Now, are you going to answer the questions I posed or are you going to just keep posting empty and unsubstantive critiques?
    *******
    Isn’t it Ironic that ISRAEL is the country that defied world concensus on nuclear proliferation, and developed their nuclear weapons clandestinely in underground bunkers?
    And yes, alec, I do understand Iran’s desire for nnuclear weapons, particularly considering Israel’s complete disdain for human rights or for international protocol.
    Has Israel shown us they have any regard for world opinion, or for the lives of Muslims??? Just look at Lebanon, where there are TENS OF THOUSANDS of unexploded cluster bomblets littering the country. Guess what, alec, the rate of failure for these bomblets is less than ten percent. That means that HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of these bomblets were rained on the population of Lebanon. These kinds of bomblets are DIRECT EVIDENCE that Israel was targeting the civilian population of Lebanon. And even as we speak Israel is razing Palestinian olive groves with bulldozers in yet another incursion into Gaza. Tell me, alec, how does bulldozing the livelyhoods of Palestinian farmers counter the influence of Hamas??? How does such an action make Israel safer from hatred and the resultant violence???
    Of course Iran wants nukes. And their desire is reasonable, wise, and perfectly understandable.
    And if we are truly concerned about Nuclear proliferation, we should throw this fucker Bush out on his ear. HE is the one allocating billions to develop new nuclear weaponry. HE is the one advocating using nuclear weapons pre-emptively. HE is the one threatening soveriegn nations with nuclear attack. HE is the one abandoning the wisdom of MAD.
    On one point I can agree with you. Ranting fanatics should never have their fingers on the nuclear trigger, it is far too dangerous. That is why Ohlmert and Bush are such a threat to the world community. Bush not only defined certain nations as “evildoers”, he has also pledged to destroy the “evildoers”. How does that differ from the rhetoric coming out of Iran???
    Posted by Pissed Off American

    Reply

  27. alec says:

    “What is to stop some Israeli BUTCHER like Ohlmert from nuking Iran if their is no deterence, no spectre of MAD looming over such an action?”
    regrdless of the sarcasm and mean-spiritedness that you regularly direct towards me and others who disagree with you, your statement above is patently ridiculous.
    according to your logic, iran should have been obliterated years ago, right?
    it is ignorant, inflammatory and generally reflective of what i believe is a worldview that is EVERY BIT as out of touch with reality as the “neocons” you demonize.

    Reply

  28. elementary teacher says:

    LOL

    Reply

  29. Pissed Off American says:

    “i really don’t want to get into another tit-for-tat ad hominum debate with you”
    Really??? Well, if that is the case you should have addressed the questions I posed to you instead of engaging in an ad hominem attack.
    But hey, alec, it IS an improvement. At least you’re IMPLYING you might finally post something of substance here.

    Reply

  30. elementary teacher says:

    “The upshot of it is that there are countries which had or were pursuing nuclear weapons, and voluntarily gave them up… South Africa..”
    Mr. Valdron, thanks for your words. You continue on the trail of historicity and pattern. Though I can’t put all this together by myself, I offer here some background on the SA component of the issue you raise — a brief chronology of major events in the Israel-South Africa Alliance:
    1948 Defacto recognition, May 24, 1948
    1949 De jure recognition, May 13, 1949
    1950 Visit by Israeli Foreign Minister Sharett to SA
    1953 “Private” visit by Malan to Israel
    1955 First nuclear collaboration?
    Uzi submachine gun in use in SA
    1957 First nuclear shipment?
    1962 Shipment of ten tons of uranium to Israel
    1967 SA military delegation in Israel (public)
    1972 Secret agreements on nuclear and conventional collaboration
    Opening of a SA Counsulate-General in Tel-Aviv
    Decision to upgrade diplomatic representation to embassies
    1974 SA cancels the Merkava agreement for the development of main battle tank
    1975 Diplomatic representation raised to embassy level by two countries
    1976 Public visit by John Vorster
    Secret agreements signed
    Joint Ministerial Committee announced
    Israeli involvement in SA “public relations” campaign (“Muldergate”)
    1977 Visit to Israel by RF Botha, foreign minister
    1979 Secret nuclear test by the two countries
    1984 Public visit by RF Botha to Israel
    1985-87 Secret visits to SA by Rabin, Arens, and Sharon
    Summary #1 — SA nuclear development paralleled Israel’s with an important distinction: SA produces enough uranium to export. The first fuel charge of the Dimona reactor in 1963 contained 24 tons of uranium. Of this load, 10 tons came from “Israeli Domestic Production,” 10 tons came from South Africa, and only 4 came from France. Even at the early stage, SA played a major role in Israel’s nuclear program. There have been unverified claims that SA first shipped uranium to Israel as early as 1957. SA reportedly delivered uranium in return for conventional weapons.
    More later.
    Alicia Hill

    Reply

  31. MP says:

    “I recommend it to you. The upshot of it is that there are countries which had or were pursuing nuclear weapons, and voluntarily gave them up… South Africa, Brazil and Argentina.
    My discussion turned on that strange fact, and tried to analyze why, in order to see what makes a nation want or abandon nuclear weapons.”
    Yes, this was a very important post. Very worthwile discussing.

    Reply

  32. Den Valdron says:

    Does Iran want nuclear weapons, P.O.A.? I don’t know about that.
    Way way down on Steve’s topics, about a week or so ago, I think it was a discussion on his ‘alternative means to deal with Iran conference’, I posted a very long discussion of nuclear strategy.
    I recommend it to you. The upshot of it is that there are countries which had or were pursuing nuclear weapons, and voluntarily gave them up… South Africa, Brazil and Argentina.
    My discussion turned on that strange fact, and tried to analyze why, in order to see what makes a nation want or abandon nuclear weapons.
    My conclusion is that right now, Iran probably doesn’t particularly want them or need them.
    Go read it and give me your thoughts…

    Reply

  33. MP says:

    How then, did Ford pardon Nixon, Alec? Or was he not fully impeached–that is, thrown out of office. I guess that’s right: He left before the hammer came down.

    Reply

  34. alec says:

    carrol asked:
    “how did presidential pardons start?…”
    Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution gives the president “Power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” A reprieve reduces the severity of a punishment without removing the guilt of the person reprieved. A pardon removes both punishment and guilt.

    Reply

  35. alec says:

    “What is to stop some Israeli BUTCHER like Ohlmert from nuking Iran if their is no deterence, no spectre of MAD looming over such an action?”
    c’mon, poa. i really don’t want to get into another tit-for-tat ad hominum debate with you, but this is a RIDICULOUS statement; even more unrealistic than the “neo-con” world view.
    i’m sure you’re a smart person, but you really do yoursef and the ideas you present a disservice when you make such silly statements.

    Reply

  36. MP says:

    “Doesn’t it strike everyone that there is something extremely sick and wrong that criminals get pardoned to begin with…and then get appointed to other adms?….”
    It is UNBELIEVEABLY SICKENING!!! I can’t believe that G Gordon Liddy gets to appear on TV or Ollie North on radio. Poor black kids are sent away for life for stealing bread and these sick people are simply dusted off and put back on display. Not to mention all of the other Iran-Contra criminals. Nixon, of course, was the biggie–how he ever got rehabilitated is beyond me.
    I have to say that I’m very, very tired of the ethical bar being set so low for our public officials. When the average person can’t get a job without giving a pint of blood and a pound of flesh, how these folks get hired over and over again, regardless of performance just beggars the imagination.
    Presidential pardoning power MAY be in the Constitution; I’d have to check. I don’t mind it as an institution, but it is hugely abused.

    Reply

  37. Carroll says:

    Abrams pleaded guilty to two lesser offenses (including withholding information from Congress) to avoid a trial and a possible jail term. He and five other Iran-Contra figures were pardoned by President George H.W. Bush on Christmas Eve 1992, shortly before the senior Bush left office.
    Posted by pauline at August 24, 2006 01:29 PM
    Doesn’t it strike everyone that there is something extremely sick and wrong that criminals get pardoned to begin with…and then get appointed to other adms?….how did presidential pardons start?…Mark Twain said that politicans were our largest criminal class, he was right.
    That is the war we should be fighting.

    Reply

  38. MP says:

    “Central to Abrams’ neoconservative philosophy � and his perspective on the objectives of U.S. foreign policy � are his own religious and Zionist convictions.”
    However, being a Zionist doesn’t mean you are a Likudnik or an Abrams fellow traveler. One doesn’t imply the other.

    Reply

  39. pauline says:

    back to abrams, see —
    http://www.antiwar.com/barry/?articleid=4847
    “Abrams has long rejected the peace process in the Middle East as a policy of appeasement. His Likudnik positions on Israeli-Palestinian tensions and Middle East restructuring are well established in his writings in the neocon magazine Commentary and his books.
    Abrams authored the chapter on the Middle East in the 2000 blueprint for U.S. foreign policy by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Edited by PNAC founders William Kristol and Robert Kagan, Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy is a chapter-by-chapter playbook on how to deal with America’s current and future adversaries.
    In his chapter on the Middle East, Abrams laid out the “peace through strength” credo that has become the operating principle of the Bush administration. “Our military strength and willingness to use it will remain a key factor in our ability to promote peace,” wrote Abrams.
    “Strengthening Israel, our major ally in the region, should be the central core of U.S. Middle East policy, and we should not permit the establishment of a Palestinian state that does not explicitly uphold U.S. policy in the region,” Abrams asserted.
    Abrams pleaded guilty to two lesser offenses (including withholding information from Congress) to avoid a trial and a possible jail term. He and five other Iran-Contra figures were pardoned by President George H.W. Bush on Christmas Eve 1992, shortly before the senior Bush left office.
    Central to Abrams’ neoconservative philosophy – and his perspective on the objectives of U.S. foreign policy – are his own religious and Zionist convictions.”

    Reply

  40. Pissed Off American says:

    “c’mon, carol. do you really believe this?! dare i say you won’t find many others who hare your opinion”
    Posted by alec at
    Isn’t it Ironic that ISRAEL is the country that defied world concensus on nuclear proliferation, and developed their nuclear weapons clandestinely in underground bunkers?
    And yes, alec, I do understand Iran’s desire for nnuclear weapons, particularly considering Israel’s complete disdain for human rights or for international protocol. What is to stop some Israeli BUTCHER like Ohlmert from nuking Iran if their is no deterence, no spectre of MAD looming over such an action?
    Has Israel shown us they have any regard for world opinion, or for the lives of Muslims??? Just look at Lebanon, where there are TENS OF THOUSANDS of unexploded cluster bomblets littering the country. Guess what, alec, the rate of failure for these bomblets is less than ten percent. That means that HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of these bomblets were rained on the population of Lebanon. These kinds of bomblets are DIRECT EVIDENCE that Israel was targeting the civilian population of Lebanon. And even as we speak Israel is razing Palestinian olive groves with bulldozers in yet another incursion into Gaza. Tell me, alec, how does bulldozing the livelyhoods of Palestinian farmers counter the influence of Hamas??? How does such an action make Israel safer from hatred and the resultant violence???
    Of course Iran wants nukes. And their desire is reasonable, wise, and perfectly understandable.
    And if we are truly concerned about Nuclear proliferation, we should throw this fucker Bush out on his ear. HE is the one allocating billions to develop new nuclear weaponry. HE is the one advocating using nuclear weapons pre-emptively. HE is the one threatening soveriegn nations with nuclear attack. HE is the one abandoning the wisdom of MAD.
    On one point I can agree with you. Ranting fanatics should never have their fingers on the nuclear trigger, it is far too dangerous. That is why Ohlmert and Bush are such a threat to the world community. Bush not only defined certain nations as “evildoers”, he has also pledged to destroy the “evildoers”. How does that differ from the rhetoric coming out of Iran???

    Reply

  41. MP says:

    Comparative kitschology aside, let’s return to the subject of Republicans more or less openly demanding that the intelligence community start cooking the books on Iran intelligence. Laura Rozen, doing some guest-blogging for Kevin Drum, wonders has “the marketing campaign against Iran begun?”
    In various ways, I think it’s been under way for a while, but clearly things are kicking into a new gear. As I was saying yesterday, this is part of the meaning of the President’s embrace of the “Islamic fascism” locution. If the United States is at war with al-Qaeda, then a big confrontation with Iran is psychotic. But if the United States is at war with Islamic fascism, then the term fits the Iranian regime about as well (or as poorly) as it fits al-Qaeda, so we may as well start a war with Iran. Note that although the administration itself didn’t play this particular card in selling the Iraq War the basic structure of how the sales pitch goes was previewed in Paul Berman’s Terror and Liberalism. He argued that al-Qaeda should be seen as a species of “Muslim totalitarianism” and that Baathist Iraq was also a species of Muslim totalitarianism, and that, therefore since we were at war with the one we should also be at war with the other.
    Bush and Cheney, of course, preferred the more straightforward gambit of simply implying that Saddam was behind 9/11 but the blueprint for the semantic switcheroo is already out there. And now we have the demands for the intelligence to be cooked up to order.
    Democrats had better be prepared to confront this business aggressively. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that they won’t be. Months and months ago when the groundwork for all this was being laid by conservative pundits and so forth I made it a habit to ask every Democratic politician I came across whether or not they were prepared for Iran to be an issue in the ’06 midterms. Absolutely none of them seemed to be. People were either confident it wouldn’t come to that, confident they could gin up a counter-pan if it did come to that, or else just expressed outrage at the idea that the GOP might politicize national security. But of course the GOP will politicize national security. What’s more, they should politicize national security — it’s an important and legitimate issue in political debates. Democrats can’t just plead for the refs to call a foul, they need to try to engage in this debate and win it.
    — Matthew Yglesias

    Reply

  42. MP says:

    I think the fundamental problem with non-proliferation is this: If some nations have them, and the US is even proposing to modernize its arsenal and deploy tactical nuclear weapons…how can we convincingly argue that other nations shouldn’t have them or be prevented from having them?
    Also, as more and more nations acquire them, their neighbors clearly get very nervous and want to acquire them too–always for defensive purposes. So they spread and spread.
    Now, there was a certain logic to MAD when it was mostly the US and the USSR and then China in the game. The situation was stable to some degree because everyone knew where the bombs would be coming from. And everyone knew that everyone knew.
    But, when you have MAD squared or MAD to the xth power and the lines of alliance and hostility criss-cross the region and the world like a major airline route map…then a nuke’s origin might not be so obvious…and intense internal pressure for a best guess response (“We KNOW who did it–who else?”) could set off a truly catastrophic chain reaction.
    If you add to this equation the problem of dirty bombs–almost even more frightening–or miniaturized bombs–the problem gets even more complicated and unstable.
    And if you have the weapons, you kind of want to get your money’s worth and use them for something.
    Given all this, I think the only real solution is a worldwide nuclear disarmament council, spearheaded by the US and the other major nuclear powers. The vision would be to make the world a nuclear-weapon-free “zone.” The approach would be a gradual, staged destruction of all nuclear weapons over X years. At each stage, the current, relative balance of power would remain the same until all nukes were gone.
    Nations without nuclear weapons would be part of this council, and they would, in a sense, be the visionaries for this council because they have ALREADY arrived at the state toward which the nuclear countries are only aspiring. Naturally, their elevated status would require that they not give in to regressive forces and develop nuclear weapons themselves. All countries would have “hold hands” pretty tightly for this work, clearly.
    Undergirding this vision would be a statement about the inherent uselessness of nuclear weaponary for offense or defense. Building better-than-your-neighbor’s bombs is no alternative either, because even one old-style bomb has enough power to wreak unspeakable damage and set off the aforementioned chain reaction. What country would want to spend billions on weapons that are useless? The only situation in which a nuclear weapon might be useful–and perhaps was useful–is when only one nation had the weapon–and that time has long past.
    The only other alternative to this is the one super-power ruling the world and forcing everyone else into line. One of the true blessings of the Iraq war is that everyone is being forced to see that this simply doesn’t work–even if one wanted it to. However, the US can be the world’s leading super-power by spearheading permanent nuclear disarmament.
    Part Two…what we use all the left over money for.

    Reply

  43. alec says:

    “If Israel in particular, and the other countries in the reigon won’t disarm then everyone in the ME should have nukes as far as I am concerned. In fact if they did you would see a lot less agression in the region…”
    c’mon, carol. do you really believe this?! dare i say you won’t find many others who hare your opinion

    Reply

  44. Pissed Off American says:

    “If anything should be smart bombed, it’s Capitol Hill…”
    Posted by Carroll
    I have warned you before, and this is juast a reminder. You are dealing with police powers here that no know no bound. They WANT to silence people like you. They have LEGISLATED to silence people like you. They have IGNORED THE CONSTITUTION to silence people like you. They are imncarcerasting people without judicial oversight or legal representation. They are applying broad sweeping definitions to terms like “enemy combatant”.
    Please, be very careful with your rhetoric.

    Reply

  45. selise says:

    steve –
    when you say “America’s ability to achieve its global objectives.” what exactly do you mean by “global objectives”?
    i’ve come to the conclusion that what separates the bush/cheney administration’s foreign policy from what i would call a reasonable foreign policy is not just it’s distain for realism, but also it’s view of what our “global objectives” are or ought to be. as far as i can tell, most foreign policity elite (not all – our host is of course excepted) agree with the bush/cheney administration on the “global objectives” part and disagree on the methods.
    (note – by objectives, i’m refering here NOT to the stated objectives… too much propaganda is in the air. i’m looking only at actions and disregarding the rhetoric.)
    if we’re going to truely embrase realism, isn’t it time for us to reconsider our “global objectives”?

    Reply

  46. Keith M Ellis says:

    God save us from all the non-realists. I find it interesting, but not surprising, that some of TWN’s readers condemn realism. Realism has never been mainstream in either party, but it’s been more tolerated by the Republicans than the Democrats. The American alternatives to realism have always been either utopianism or isolationism (or a combination of the two which seems to believe that everything would work out okay in the rest of the world if the US stayed away from involvement).
    But here we are in a time when the Republican Party, and most importantly, the Executive Branch of the US government, has been held captive by the utopian non-realists of the neocon variety. And the opposition party is poorly prepared to offer an alternative because it’s never nurtured realism and mostly offers isolationism or a neocon utopian inversion which sees Isreal as the ME villain—and fantastically assumes the US has no true interest in being Isreal’s ally and if this alliance were ended, peace and hugs and bunnies would surely follow. In other words, a different kind of utopian fantasy.
    We’re still two years away from the Democratic President I expect we’ll elect. That’s two more years for this administration to compound its mistakes and, at any rate, I’m not that hopeful that we’ll get an Acheson in the next Democratic administration. Sadly, I think we’re more likely to get such a realist with, say, a McCain administration. But what is really needed is a realist *now*. And as long as Cheney is running the show—and we all know he is—that’s not going to happen.

    Reply

  47. me & alec says:

    “It is just common sense that Iran would not use nukes offensively. They realize that both Israel AND the United States would reduce them to radioactive silica. It would be an act of suicide, and would spell the end of Iran. Period.”
    i agree with poa. although, given the extremely belicose rhetoric emanating from iran’s mullahs and “elected” (wink, wink) leaders, i don’t think that “to argue otherwise is asinine to the extreme.”
    Posted by alec at August 23, 2006 10:44 PM
    I’m with alec on this. It is not asinine to the extreme to argue that Iran’s out to nuke us all if you selectively quote Iranian leaders’ extremely belicose rhetoric and paint them as evil incarnate who hate us for our freedoms. If you want war with Iran it is not asinine to the extreme at all to be selective in propagandizing the ignorant populace with fear unto war. In fact it’s very Geobbels/Streicher clever and our “elected” (wink, wink) leader is very adept at this.

    Reply

  48. me & alec says:

    “It is just common sense that Iran would not use nukes offensively. They realize that both Israel AND the United States would reduce them to radioactive silica. It would be an act of suicide, and would spell the end of Iran. Period.”
    i agree with poa. although, given the extremely belicose rhetoric emanating from iran’s mullahs and “elected” (wink, wink) leaders, i don’t think that “to argue otherwise is asinine to the extreme.”
    Posted by alec at August 23, 2006 10:44 PM
    I’m with alec on this. It is not asinine to the extreme to argue that Iran’s out to nuke us all if you selectively quote Iranian leaders’ extremely belicose rhetoric and paint them as evil incarnate who hate us for our freedoms. If you want war with Iran it is not asinine to the extreme at all to be selective in propagandizing the ignorant populace with fear unto war. In fact it’s very Geobbels/Streicher clever and our “elected” (wink, wink) leader is very adept at this.

    Reply

  49. me & alec says:

    “It is just common sense that Iran would not use nukes offensively. They realize that both Israel AND the United States would reduce them to radioactive silica. It would be an act of suicide, and would spell the end of Iran. Period.”
    i agree with poa. although, given the extremely belicose rhetoric emanating from iran’s mullahs and “elected” (wink, wink) leaders, i don’t think that “to argue otherwise is asinine to the extreme.”
    Posted by alec at August 23, 2006 10:44 PM
    I’m with alec on this. It is not asinine to the extreme to argue that Iran’s out to nuke us all if you selectively quote Iranian leaders’ extremely belicose rhetoric and paint them as evil incarnate who hate us for our freedoms. If you want war with Iran it is not asinine to the extreme at all to be selective in propagandizing the ignorant populace with fear unto war. In fact it’s very Geobbels/Streicher clever and our “elected” (wink, wink) leader is very adept at this.

    Reply

  50. me & alec says:

    “It is just common sense that Iran would not use nukes offensively. They realize that both Israel AND the United States would reduce them to radioactive silica. It would be an act of suicide, and would spell the end of Iran. Period.”
    i agree with poa. although, given the extremely belicose rhetoric emanating from iran’s mullahs and “elected” (wink, wink) leaders, i don’t think that “to argue otherwise is asinine to the extreme.”
    Posted by alec at August 23, 2006 10:44 PM
    I’m with alec on this. It is not asinine to the extreme to argue that Iran’s out to nuke us all if you selectively quote Iranian leaders’ extremely belicose rhetoric and paint them as evil incarnate who hate us for our freedoms. If you want war with Iran it is not asinine to the extreme at all to be selective in propagandizing the ignorant populace with fear unto war. In fact it’s very Geobbels/Streicher clever and our “elected” (wink, wink) leader is very adept at this.

    Reply

  51. Carroll says:

    And let’s just play what if….
    Instead of this neo circle jerk talking point for their delusions of Isr/merica domination of the ME..
    “Mr. Bush’s biggest concern is said to be Iran, which his advisers assert intends to dominate the Middle East through a takeover of Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. The president has ordered Ms. Rice to press hard for U.N. Security Council sanctions against Tehran over the next few weeks.
    “Syria is a tool of Iran today and it has been for some time,” former Secretary of State Alexander Haig said. “But it’s been a tool for other people, as well. Iran is the ideological core of our problem.”
    What if Syria isn’t a tool of Iran or is only tool number three in the pecking order.. what if Iran isn’t the “ideological” core of their problem..what if Iran has their own Russian Sugar Daddy just like Isr’s American Sugar Daddy? ….what if we are right back to the old standoff between US and Russia in the ME of the old days?
    That’s where Isr first came into the equation as an asset, well, they have proven they aren’t much of a asset, military wise or other wise….sooooooo…hummmm….
    I can see Putin sitting back and watching us pound ourselves into the ground and then walzing in and picking up the pieces in the ME….strikes me he would think of it as poetic justice.

    Reply

  52. Carroll says:

    Marc..btw…looking at what I wrote maybe I wasn’t clear…the experts I was speaking of have argued that Iran has no reason to attack the US…I agree with them…the US proper is in no danger of being attacked by Iran….
    The bogga bogga is hype to cover the neo’s plan and our congress has stepped in for Feith’s former OSP propaganda mill and is now ginning up the crapola themselves…we are exactly where we were in the run up to Iraq…it’s the same Israeli, neo influences with the added element of political posturing in both parties for the elections…
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/24/washington/24intel.html?ex=1314072000&en=765f71a9cab6e972&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss
    If anything should be smart bombed, it’s Capitol Hill…

    Reply

  53. Carroll says:

    Russia pays final $21.6B to Paris Club – BusinessWeek – Aug 21, 2006
    BBC NEWS | Business | Russia pays off Paris Club debtsRussia’s huge oil and gas wealth enables the early repayment of its entire $22.3bn Paris Club debt.
    news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/5271122.stm – 40k – Aug 22, 2006 – Cached – Similar pages
    Oil Profits Help Russia Pay Off Soviet-Era DebtMOSCOW, Aug. 21 Eight years after it defaulted on more than $40 billion in debt and slid into financial chaos, Russia transferred $23.7 billion to the Paris …
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/21/AR2006082101526
    .html

    Reply

  54. Carroll says:

    You can’t stop them. Maybe they do have them now and that is why they are not kow towing to Isrmerica’s demands. Maybe they are going to play the game to see what they can get in the way of carrot treats and sugar plums for Uncle Sam….maybe trade off letting their nuclear energy sites be monitored while their nuke weapons are already baked and safely stored elsewhere for a rainy day.
    And btw..guess what?..Russia just paid off all their debts and are now debt free.
    Putin smart fox…Mafia/USA dumb asses.

    Reply

  55. Den Valdron says:

    Does Iran want nuclear weapons? Well, doesn’t anyone. I know that if someone offered me an MIRV ICBM I wouldn’t turn them down. And that dog would never mess on my lawn again.
    But assuming that Iran did want nuclear weapons… Why don’t they have them now? Take a look at a map. Just north of Iran, what do you see? Kazakhstan.
    And beyond Kazakstan? Russia.
    Yep. Iran is right on the border with the biggest nuclear power on Earth. Specifically, the biggest *broke* nuclear power on Earth. Even more specifically, the *poorest* most *broke* fragment of the *biggest* *brokest* nuclear power on Earth. This was a country where the guards on the nuclear stockpile weren’t getting paid for weeks. Where Russia was so destitute, it didn’t even have records kept. And you know where a lot of those nukes were located? Kazakstan. When the USSR broke up, Kazakstan automatically became the third largest nuclear power on Earth. And it was even more destitute than the rest of russia, ruled by petty tyrannical oligarchs with loose morals. The Russians had somewhere between 12,000 and 20,000 nuclear warheads. You think they’d even notice if twenty or thirty went missing? It would get put down as a clerical error.
    So, you gotta figure if the Iranians really wanted nukes, they would have just written a cheque. Come on, how was anyone going to be able to stop them? Seriously.

    Reply

  56. Easy E says:

    Iran’s Ahmadinejad’s worldly wisdom & knowledge far exceeds that of the Smirking Chimp. So does Syria’s Assad. Don’t have to be sympathizer of Hezbollah or Al Quaeda to have such a view.

    Reply

  57. Carroll says:

    Marc ..unfortunately I go brain dead after the witching hour..which is when I usually get here to read remarks…but will try to hunt up and post some links to studies by various people I have seen in the past that I agreed with.
    I actually put more, or as much weight on what former CIA analyst and foreign diplomats have to say about what should be done than I do the policy wonks who have to practical experience in the ME. I do agree with CIA guys like Michael Scheuer that first we have to take Israel out of the equation as a favored nation to establish US interest. Then I also agree with Pat Buchanan (of all people, never thought I would agree with him)that we do have to realize the ME is not composed of dumb shits who are going to give up their soverign interest just cause we say so. Then I think President Carter has the best take on what we need to do to gain back friends or have some sort of relationship in the ME, which begins with settling Isr/Pal, quit treating the arabs as if they are lowly beast without honor or human qualities and go back to doing business in the ME the old fashioned way..by buying what we need instead of tyring to take it by force.

    Reply

  58. Carroll says:

    To answer the question of whether or not Iran “wants” to aquire nukes…imho, of course they want to…Israel has nukes, half a dozen other countries in the region have nukes, the US just told India they could develop nukes….were I the president of Iran I would be working to build up a nuclear deterrent also.
    That doesn’t mean they are going to use them offensively. How long has Israel been beating the drums to wipe out Iran?..a long time….how many times has Israel threatened to “take the entire region down with them” if they are attacked?..often. So we expect Iran to sit there naked and do nothing to strengthen themselves against a nuke attack?
    That doesn’t even make sense…as the US sits here armed to the teeth with nukes “for self protection”..and our prez declares the only and first goal of the gov is to “protect” the nation.
    Well, I am sure other national leaders feel the same way about their nations. If the Iran prez is a insane manaic for wanting nukes then so are we and Israel and India and Korea and China and Russia and you name it. That is one reason I find so many “expert” plans to be so idiotic…most of them pretend that other countries are run by lunatic alien beings without brains who don’t have the same desires or concerns as we do.
    If Israel in particular, and the other countries in the reigon won’t disarm then everyone in the ME should have nukes as far as I am concerned. In fact if they did you would see a lot less agression in the region…contrary to the myths we are fed about dying being the number one ambition of Arabs, no one wants to commit suicide if they have a better alternative.

    Reply

  59. Jeff says:

    Who knew that Frederick Fleitz had a job on the Hill now, wreaking havoc from within the legislative branch rather than the executive?

    Reply

  60. alec says:

    alicia:
    are you referring to me or poa? 😉

    Reply

  61. elementary teacher says:

    What in tarnation are you doing? Why aren’t you ranting and raving? What has happened to you, man? You’re a shadow of your former self. Did you like *decide* it was time to slap on some of that Mennen Skin Bracer and start showin’ off your charming side?
    J/K, LOL, ROTF, ETC.
    Best, Alicia Hill

    Reply

  62. alec says:

    “It is just common sense that Iran would not use nukes offensively. They realize that both Israel AND the United States would reduce them to radioactive silica. It would be an act of suicide, and would spell the end of Iran. Period.”
    i agree with poa. although, given the extremely belicose rhetoric emanating from iran’s mullahs and “elected” (wink, wink) leaders, i don’t think that “to argue otherwise is asinine to the extreme.”

    Reply

  63. Pissed Off American says:

    “But some here seem to think they know that Iran doesn’t want to acquire nukes and doesn’t want to use them offensively.”
    MP, fabricating arguments again.
    Can you direct me to a post that states Iran doesn’t want to acquire nukes??
    It is just common sense that Iran would not use nukes offensively. They realize that both Israel AND the United States would reduce them to radioactive silica. It would be an act of suicide, and would spell the end of Iran. Period. To argue otherwise is asinine to the extreme.

    Reply

  64. elementary teacher says:

    Amnesty International accused Israel of War Crimes in Lebanon, in a report released today, Wednesday, August 23, 2006.
    Israeli Foreign Affairs Spokesmen, Mark Regev, rejected Amnesty’s criticism, indicating that “the actions in Lebanon were in accord with the norms of recognized conduct of war and did not contravene pertinent International Laws.”
    UNICEF estimates that 1,350 Lebanese persons died in the conflict while, 970,000 were displaced.
    Alicia Hill

    Reply

  65. margaret says:

    I am continually amazed that the President of Iran is depicted as a madman intent upon the destruction of Israel by atomic weapons by this government and the MSM. But, the propaganda machine is in full gear.
    We do need to see and hear from the leaders of Syria and Iran, especially, in every forum possible. And, the President needs to talk directly with these leaders. Dialogue with the “enemy” is absolutely essential if we are not to destroy ourselves with war bankruptcy.

    Reply

  66. Matthew says:

    Steve: American policy is failing in the ME for the reasons you don’t even implicitly acknowledge. You divide the equation into “Israel’s security” and “Arab interests.” This implies that Israel’s interests always trump Arab interests. Considering the number of Lebanese and Palestinian children killed by the IDF within the last 60 days, maybe fairness, or even fundamental decency, would require including “Arab security” in the policy equation. Whether you state it expressly or not, you are valuing Israeli lives over Arab ones.

    Reply

  67. marky says:

    I’m agnostic on the question of whether Iran is actively seeking nuclear weapons, but I am confident it is not seeking them for offensive use. Since nuclear weapons were discovered, many unsavory, unstable leaders have had nuclear capability; in addition, nuclear tension was much higher during the Cold War, yet their use was avoided (no thanks to advisors on the AMERICAN side such as J. Von Neumann).
    There is no reason to think that Iran’s leaders are irrational enough to plan an offensive use of nuclear weapons, Bernard Lewis’s senile maunderings aside.
    Based on history to date, I see no reason to believe that a relatively stable government such as Iran’s would use nuclear weapons offensively. I think the standard of proof for any such claim should be very tough.
    Furthermore, there is no logic in worrying about the danger from weapons Iran does not have instead of concerning oneself with the very real danger of unstable Korea and Pakistan possessing nukes now. The focus on Iran to the exclusion of Pakistan, North Korea and the loose nukes in the FSU is proof in itself that the Iranian threat is being hyped for political reasons.

    Reply

  68. MP says:

    I guess I would try to be a bit humble about what we know or don’t know about Iran’s intentions and capabilities. Our ignorance–to put it mildly–is on display in Iraq and Afghanistan. Making the same mistake twice would be disastrous, again to put it mildly.
    But some here seem to think they know that Iran doesn’t want to acquire nukes and doesn’t want to use them offensively. My question is…how do you know? Can you afford to be wrong?
    The point is really…we just don’t know. And the people who claim to know are the ones who scare me.
    Iran’s offer in today’s morning papers is interesting and should be pursued for all its worth. Constant contact is key.

    Reply

  69. John says:

    The good news is that the sky is falling on these arrogant unilateralists, and they’re finally starting to realize it: http://www.insightmag.com/Media/MediaManager/Funk.htm
    And on their Israeli counterparts:
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/753229.html
    The bad news is that these bullies are probably too old to learn how to behave any differently.

    Reply

  70. Anon says:

    “This bombastic and posturing style of “diplomacy” is going to lead
    inescapably to one or the other of the following results:
    1. War with Iran (with negative consequences beyond anyone’s ability
    to imagine); or 2. Another humiliating demonstration of impotence. ”
    Ray Close
    http://www.juancole.com/2006/08/close-building-war-on-iran-ray-close.html
    “Publius” had a more detailed explanation answering your question. Wasn’t able to find it by searching the archives here and rushing…

    Reply

  71. marky says:

    Anon,
    Could you clarify?

    Reply

  72. Anon says:

    Marky, with all due respect, you are confusing short term political calculations with long term political calculations.

    Reply

  73. Marky says:

    Of course Bush isn’t going to listen to any reasonable advice, assuming he has the mental capacity to consider such advice in the first place. The only way to stop Bush is for the Democrats to win back Congress in November. Nothing else matters, since Bush ignores all ordinary constraints on power, and since the Republican Congress has completely let go of the reins on foreign policy.
    That said, I do wonder if the prospect of an impending Democratic victory in November might sober Bush into halting his Iran plans.
    While I do believe he is deeply evil and not very bright, he (or Rove) is canny about politics, and I believe that he may opt against a war which has no possible political benefit for him.

    Reply

  74. pauline says:

    to add to poa’s comments on elliot abrams, here’s a link
    http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0209-22.htm
    with the following abrams description —
    As a government official, Abrams organized front groups to provide private and clandestine official support for the Nicaraguan Contras; served as the president of an ethics institute despite his own record of lying to Congress and managing illegal operations; rose to high positions in the National Security Council to oversee U.S. foreign policy in regions where he had no professional experience, only ideological positions; proved himself as a political intellectual in books and essays that explore the interface between orthodox Judaism, American culture, and political philosophy; and demonstrated his considerable talents in public diplomacy as a political art in the use of misinformation and propaganda to ensure public and policy support for foreign relations agendas that would otherwise be soundly rejected.

    Reply

  75. Prabhata says:

    The war with Iran is a done deal. The president will not go to Congress for approval. The US will bomb Iran using some minor incident and Congress will go along.

    Reply

  76. global yokel says:

    “Few would question that Elliot Abrams is a brilliant guy.”
    Well Steve, count me as one of the few. The guy is a Category #5 Screwup. Have you forgotten his days as one of the clowns who misdirected our intervention in Central America during the Reagan regime? And now he is part of the policy apparatus that is making a mess of the Middle East?
    Perhaps you could set the bar a little higher for your definition of “brilliant?”

    Reply

  77. PUBLIUS says:

    I concur with Steve. Let’s focus on the issues with civility and concentration. Much is stake.
    Courtesy of the Guardian via Huffingtonpost.com, a report on the ascendance of Iran, thanks to Bush’s, Elliott Abrams’ and Cheney’s rank incompetence in matters of international relations:
    http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/pdf/research/mep/Iran0806.pdf
    Note that Howard Dean and other DNC spokesmen focusing on Bush neglecting the “war on terror” by ignoring Iran in favor of Iraq may be playing into a trap. This approach, if not conducted with discipline and careful thought, will fuel unvanquished neoconservative efforts to resort to the violent approach of resolving this situation by hastening Middle East “birth pangs”, with the foreseeable short-term (and desperately needed) benefits to the administration on the domestic front via the November elections.
    PUBLIUS

    Reply

  78. Steve Clemons says:

    Reminders —
    leave the personal attacks off of this site. someone posted personal information on this blog regarding those i was writing about. if that happens again, the individual(s) will be permanently blocked from TWN.
    also, i have no patience for slurs or defamation here. this is a policy and politics blog — make your case on the merits, be civil to others, and don’t engage in mud-slinging.
    i like the comments section — but i have zero patience for bigotry and racism. there are plenty of blogs that will provide space for that kind of venomous discourse. i don’t want it here.
    so, keep it on the issues folks —
    thanks, reminders will be posted from time to time,
    steve clemons

    Reply

  79. Anon says:

    No realist is arguing Iran seeks to attack the United States with nuclear weapons. Imagine, however, an attack by the U.S. against Iran. If Iran has nuclear weapons – in contrast to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Ahmadinejad refuses effective United Nations inspections – imagine the far greater likelihood that Iran would send its missiles – nuclear-headed or not – against Israel and sink a ship or two or three or four of the United States Navy. This is what Iran has promised. This is what Iran seems capable of doing if attacked. Imagine.
    * * * * * * * * *
    I also would like to get the question answered:
    WHY WOULD IRAN ATTACK THE U.S. WITH A NUCLEAR WEAPON?
    Think of the consequences. W – H – Y ?
    Posted by Easy E at August 23, 2006 10:18 AM

    Reply

  80. Post-Bombardment Lebanon & Iran says:

    http://www.usip.org/events/2006/0831_lebanon.html
    Putting Lebanon Back Together [+ Iran & the November Elections]
    Public Event
    Date and Time
    Thursday, August 31, 2006
    10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    Location
    U.S. Institute of Peace
    2nd Floor Conference Room
    1200 17th St, NW
    Washington, DC 20036
    RSVP to Attend and share the announcement widely

    Reply

  81. Post-Bombardment Lebanon & Iran says:

    http://www.usip.org/events/2006/0831_lebanon.html
    Putting Lebanon Back Together [+ Iran & the November Elections]
    Public Event
    Date and Time
    Thursday, August 31, 2006
    10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    Location
    U.S. Institute of Peace
    2nd Floor Conference Room
    1200 17th St, NW
    Washington, DC 20036
    RSVP to Attend and share the announcement widely

    Reply

  82. Post-Bombardment Lebanon & Iran says:

    http://www.usip.org/events/2006/0831_lebanon.html
    Putting Lebanon Back Together [+ Iran & the November Elections]
    Public Event
    Date and Time
    Thursday, August 31, 2006
    10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    Location
    U.S. Institute of Peace
    2nd Floor Conference Room
    1200 17th St, NW
    Washington, DC 20036
    RSVP to Attend and share the announcement widely

    Reply

  83. Post-Bombardment Lebanon & Iran says:

    http://www.usip.org/events/2006/0831_lebanon.html
    Putting Lebanon Back Together [+ Iran & the November Elections]
    Public Event
    Date and Time
    Thursday, August 31, 2006
    10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    Location
    U.S. Institute of Peace
    2nd Floor Conference Room
    1200 17th St, NW
    Washington, DC 20036
    RSVP to Attend and share the announcement widely

    Reply

  84. Easy E says:

    Bets are on that GOP succeeds in November. Fear-mongering propaganda will ensure it.
    CNN Poll: Most think bin Laden planning another U.S. attack.
    http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/08/22/osama.poll/index.html
    FOX NEWS: Iran wants to nuke U.S.
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,209938,00.html
    CNN Special: In The Footsteps of bin Laden
    http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/presents/bin.laden/
    Terror politics is succeeding, as pointed out by Keith Olbermann:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=az7yl-UnsQQ
    Pay attention America!

    Reply

  85. Easy E says:

    GOP will undoubtedly succeed in November with continued fear-mongering propaganda.
    CNN Poll: Most think bin Laden planning another U.S. attack.
    http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/08/22/osama.poll/index.html
    FOX NEWS: Iran wants to nuke U.S.
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,209938,00.html
    CNN Special: In the Footsteps of bin Laden
    http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/presents/bin.laden/
    No doubt, the Politics of Terror is succeeding, as pointed out by Keith Olbermann:
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=30ligvuLKCs
    Pay attention, America.

    Reply

  86. DonS says:

    OK, I will read the entire article later. And I’d love to hop on the realism-will-bring-us-progress bandwagon (Iknow, I know, there is no bandwagon; a minor detail).
    But one must ask, why is it the Elliot Abramses are listened to, and in positions of ultimate power, spreading neocon germs erverywhere? I think the answer is that virtually all the powers that be want that message to prevail. While Mr. Abrams may be the gold standard of neocon cum zionist/dual loyalty of government poobahs, he is, in my opinion, only a most egregious example. Far from ony influencing others untowardly, I suspect the others may be just lapping it up and looking for seconds.
    After the unabashely biased performace of the US during the Lebanese war, how can one begin to pretend the US is really interested in any posture but Israel first, everyone else second, or third. I mean, really.

    Reply

  87. Easy E says:

    I also would like to get the question answered:
    WHY WOULD IRAN ATTACK THE U.S. WITH A NUCLEAR WEAPON?
    Think of the consequences. W – H – Y ?

    Reply

  88. Marc says:

    Thanks Steve for sharing Flynt’s article. Like Carol, Aunt Deb and Marcia I don’t see anything progressive in the underlying rationales behind his thinking, but for different reasons. While he proposes alternative tactics, in many ways, I see the “Realists” and “Neocons” as allies who both get it wrong about the impacts and consequences for Americans of the foreign policy actions of our government in the non white or western parts which make up the majority of the world. The sources of their shared failure rest in the assumptions, myths, and attitudes about “us” and “them” that are found in both paradigms.
    Carol, could you point out some of the experts who start their analyses with why Iran or any other nation in the world for that matter would want to attack America? It has been a long time since another nation attacked America. During that time, other nations have attacked other nations but I think America is #1 in overt and covert military actions against other nations even before current doctrine of regime change or attacking other nations in the name of preemption and ensuring American military dominance in the world became official American policy.

    Reply

  89. Concerned American says:

    http://www.irc-online.org/rightweb/ind/abrams/abrams_body.html
    Yet another clueless Harvard Law alumnus in power and offering counsels on matters of which he knows precious little of genuine substance. I see he spent a bit of time overseas, at least. Nonetheless, one wonders about the depth of his understanding of the language, cultures, religions, history and international relations of the states and stateless actors operating in the Middle East region.

    Reply

  90. SW says:

    Abrams is without honor.

    Reply

  91. eCAHNomics says:

    The only intelligent remark I ever heard about the Middle East was a few years ago. On a book tour, in response to a question about whether the Road Map would work, Tom Friedman (yes, the same Tom Friedman with only a nodding acquataince with the obvious) sang: doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo to the Twilight Zone theme.
    Having replayed that as my abiding forecast for the ME, I’ll add that this crew is really destructive. In general, has Israel ever done anything nonbelligerent towards its neighbors unless it was dragged kicking & screaming by the US? But these guys, with their DC enablers, are going out of their way to make sure neighbors will hate Israel for years. And, like the US neocons, they are incompetent beyond imagination. A winning combo.
    Hasn’t Israel used up all it points from the holocaust and shouldn’t we change our expectations & evaluate it as if (ha ha) it were an ordinary country in the community of humankind? Imagine the implications for US foreign policy. (Doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo.)

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  92. profmarcus says:

    steve…
    after six years of bush demonstrating that he consults no one outside of his pre-approved inner circle, chief among them, karl rove, for you to put someone forward and suggesting advice for him to give george is, imho, a serious waste of bandwidth… the bush administration is immune to conventional reason, principled arguments, thoughtful discussion, alternative solutions, and essentially anything that does not further their agenda of global hegemony and the accumulation of raw power… i would much rather see your considerable talents used to figure out how to get them out of office by the most expeditious means possible while there is still something left to salvage in our country…

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  93. EB says:

    Tell me, what other country in world history could boast that they willingly put a foreign agent in the a powerful position so that the foreign agent could strongly influence their government at it’s own expense. No dare call it treason.

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  94. gisella says:

    I know who you are Bruce Sharpio. A soft spoken, low ranked MOSSAD patsy. Too weak to be trusted seriously by the Zionists and no backbone to stay honest in politics. Are you still in love with this smelly old Liberman? Your mission is to infiltrate the LEFT and report back to your masters.Behind the IRON-CURTAIN we used to call you dirty little communist!It was you carrying the RED flag and promising us eternal communist-dictatorship,your kind only feels good if the rest of the country lives in terror and constant fear!!! It is painful to see how the Engish speaking world is being eaten up by the same germ that destroyed Eastern-Europe !

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  95. Aunt Deb says:

    It isn’t about who’s got the power or the ear to the powerful. It’s about the wrongheaded idea of power’s use and I’m afraid Mr. Leverett shares that idea. It is rather remarkable, though, that he should be described as being on the outside, attempting to get his viewpoint through the imperial embargo on ‘alternative’ analyses.

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  96. Marcia says:

    To see all these neurotic personalities playing out their obsessions and fantasies on the world stage is horrifing. Their endless rationalizations, projections and ego-inflated delusion are paid in pounds of human flesh.
    Generals and sovereigns of old asked after the battle, “How many dead.” Today the dead inspire only indifference. “We don’t do body count.”
    That is the hold power has over people, few understand what indifference really is, how totally indifferent those who govern really are to the needs and aspirations of those who work and pay for their follies. They let fall just enough crumbs to keep them quiet.
    It is easy to imagine the frustration foreign policy stragetists must feel to see the Elliot Abrams and Richard Pearles continue their under-handed ruthless deals. For them it is part of a sick game where others pay their debts.
    What calamity will it take for people to wake up?

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  97. Carroll says:

    I read the entire article. I don’t see much different than what other realist have said before…although I am sure Leverett is brillant in his knowledge of the ME… I do detect he isn’t totally objective either …he is also into the US/Isr are the good guys the others are the bad guys without any merit to their side. Not a good starting point for a meeting of minds…and no one is going to stick to an “agreement” unless there is a true meeting of minds. I am really more impressed with the experts who start out with why Iran would want to attack the US to begin with…that seems the best “starting point” to get to what to offer them or swear off doing to them.
    Other than that..there are numerous other good plans for what “should be done”.
    But unless someone has a plan to get rid of Abrams, Bush, Cheney, AIPAC, JINSA and the other assorted zionist and neos..then basically all these plans are worthless at the moment.. practically speaking.
    Every realist with any influence or closeness to Bush, from his father to his father’s adm’s old guard has tried to pull Jr. back from the brink of his ignorance without success. I don’t see how you are going to get anyone in the WH to replace Abrams as long as Cheney is there.
    In addition to the WH set up, we also have Israel who will do whatever it takes to get us to attack Iran. Isr interest are at the peak of their power in the US right now, but with growing threats to their grip coming from an awakening public on the horizion. This is their now or never time, it will never come again, so they will go for broke. There are probably only 20 people in congress who would really fight against an attack on Iran….and in the pentagon the AF is for it and the Marines are against it…so really we are right back to where we were pre Iraq.
    What we actually need is a plan to get rid of the people who are standing in the way of sane plans.

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  98. Pissed Off American says:

    Interesting seeing Abrams discussed without seeing it pointed out that he is an Iran/Contra CRIMINAL.
    Also, it is quite interesting what you come up with if you do a google advanced search inputting both Abrams and Zakheim. These guys are as thick as flies on shit.
    Which prefaces the obvious question to be posed to Steve; How can you on the one hand laud Zakheim, and on the other hand feel such disdain for Abrams? They both unquestionably serve the same masters, share ideologies, and have been compatriots in a number of slimey groupings, not the least being the PNAC.
    I wonder, did you remember, or will you remember, to ask Dobbins his opinion on Zakheim? You seem to hold Dobbins in high esteem. I truly am curious what feedback you would get. If you ask him, I hope he will comment ON THE RECORD. But that is probably just wishful thinking on my part, because there is something about the air in Washington that seems to be atrophying gonads.

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