Iran, Peaceniks, and War Lovers

Do you know who the real war lovers are? Peaceniks. Without wars, what would they do with their moral sanctimony? After Vietnam they suffered a long dry spell, positively horny for a war to oppose; Iraq finally let them scratch their itch. That felt so good, but now Iraq is over and Afghanistan is winding down. So now they’re ginning up indignation about a war that hasn’t happened – and won’t.

First, regarding Iran, let’s be clear: all the “are they or aren’t they?” hand-wringing is foolish. Iran’s behavior leaves no doubt that it’s seeking nuclear weapons.

In past situations, the “give sanctions time to work” line was a feckless bleat. But in this situation, there really is no alternative. Past sanctions tended to be slaps with a wet noodle; but now the prospect of an Israeli attack on Iran seems to have frightened the civilized world more than the prospect of an Iranian bomb ever did. So that, at long last, hoping to forestall the Israelis, they’ve gotten serious and imposed a set of sanctions that will really bite (including locking Iran out of the international money transfer system).

If air strikes could actually destroy Iran’s bomb program, I’d be all for it. But they can’t. Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is too dispersed, hidden, and well-protected. At most bombing would damage it temporarily, while actually redoubling the regime’s commitment to it. And while some sensible Iranians might blame such an attack on regime recklessness, there would also be a “rally round” effect. Indeed, an attack would be a godsend to a regime struggling to sustain loyalty, seemingly proving that its propaganda invoking foreign bogeymen was not paranoid nonsense after all.

Meantime, an attack would itself be a reckless gamble, with unforeseeable but potentially terrible follow-ons. The huge risks outweigh any possible gains. I think that’s true for the Israelis as well.

Better to let sanctions grind away at the mullahs, who will certainly be blamed for the economic toll. Iran’s economy is already a shambles due to the regime’s incompetence; because of that, together with the stolen 2009 election and the bloody crackdown that followed, the mullahs know they’re skating on thin ice and can ill-afford even more economic pain. The hope is that they will be forced to give up on the bomb; or else they’ll fall.

 If neither happens, and Iran does get the bomb, that will be bad, but we’ll have to live with it. Don’t be fooled by the mullahs’ messianic religious pose. In truth this is just another gang of thugs ruling by gangster methods, for their own aggrandizement, cloaked in phony religious camouflage. It’s to secure their power that they want the bomb – not to actually use it and risk everything.

American policy makers understand all this perfectly well, and while some saber-rattling is (rightly) part of our repertoire in dealing with Iran, an actual U.S. attack (let alone a full-scale “war”) is out of the question. Except of course in the fevered minds of peaceniks thirsting for a war to be against, and who love to condemn their own country as a warmonger nation toward which they can feel morally superior.

6 Responses to “Iran, Peaceniks, and War Lovers”

  1. amir Says:

    As an atheist Iranian, I fully support our national right to have nukes. Israel is a state based on false religious believes and racism. It is by far less rational than any regime in Tehran

    [FSR comment: Israel does not execute religious dissenters, as does Iran. If you are, as you say, an atheist, then either you are not living in Iran; or you keep your atheism very secret; or you are dead.]

  2. amir Says:

    FSR comment: Israel does not execute religious dissenters, as does Iran. If you are, as you say, an atheist, then either you are not living in Iran; or you keep your atheism very secret; or you are dead.]

    That’s a lie I had lived in Iran for many years. I never tried to hide my believes and no one do anything to me. Basically, you’re in trouble if you are going for the politics otherwise you can believe to what ever you want.
    Israel is based on some stupid story. Name another country based on the same stupidness.

    [FSR reply: Iran, obviously. If you are an atheist, I fail to understand how you can condemn the narrative of Judaism as a “stupid story” but not the narrative of Islam.
    A lie that Iran executes religious dissenters? I think not. Look here. And here. That’s from just five seconds of googling.
    If you don’t think Iran is a vastly more repressive, less democratic, and less humane country than Israel, you are simply not looking or thinking with the least objectivity. I am not an Israel lover. And I have nothing against the people of Iran. But I can tell the difference between governance in Israel and Iran. And it’s a very big difference.]

  3. Lee Says:

    “Do you know who the real war lovers are? Peaceniks. Without wars, what would they do with their moral sanctimony?” is great. You’ve outdone yourself, Frank!

    [FSR: Thanks. I take this as agreement.]

  4. Lee Says:

    Call it what you will — universalism / Universalism / humanism / Jesus loves all of us — but I have found that the assumption that others are not too different from me to be quite practical. For the most part, I assume that others are mostly benevolent, mostly competent, and mostly kind. I find that the contrary assumption, that some one or some group is significantly malevolent or incompetent to be impractical in many situations — it removes from table several highly effective avenues of problem solving.

    Both hawks and doves have reasonable points of view; as a group neither are malevolent nor incompetent; neither are excitedly wetting their pants anticipating the next period of war and/or peace. Supporting any position will be the rare individuals who are the exceptions, but in this context they are of no importance.

    In the US / Iran conflict (or similarly with Israel / Palestine), I think we are doing ourselves a disservice by not imagining ourselves in the shoes of our “enemies”. If Iran had troops in Canada, Mexico and off the Pacific coast, how would we in the US feel and how would we act? — and might the Iranians feel that way too given that we have troops on three of their borders, Iraq, Afghanistan, and in the Persian gulf? (You are fed the view from “our” side daily in our media, so I leave that out, but you know it well.)

    If Iran launched attacks on us, surgical or otherwise, from Canada, Mexico, the Pacific ocean, or afar, would that persuade us to abandon our nuclear program?! Of course not; if anything we would redouble it — and that is the case regardless of how effective we think Iran would be in such an endeavor.

    We think the world would be a better place for all people, including Iranians, if Iran refrained from developing nuclear weapons. We need to make that case to the Iranians in the way that would best work if addressed to us. I don’t see military intervention or crippling sanctions (if they could somehow be arranged) being effective against us — so I would be looking for a better approach “against” them.

    [FSR comment: And what, exactly, might that better approach be? And while obviously it helps to understand the Iranian point of view, I can’t agree that there is some sort of equivalence between us and them. The world is what it is, and it is meaningless to hypothesize Iran having troops in Canada. I sometimes wonder what my life might have been like had I been born of normal height, or Chinese, or female. But that is likewise a meaningless hypothetical — it would not in any sense be “me.”]

  5. Lee Says:

    A footnote: obviously Iranians are not identical to Americans and there is a decent amount of variation within populations, so it would be inappropriate to treat each of them in the exact way that I would want to be treated. However there are some universals — we should give serious consideration to treating them with respect, to listening to their goals and aspirations, to ceasing to assassinate their nuclear scientists, etc.

    [FSR comment: WE don’t assassinate nuclear scientists. I agree with treating Iranians with respect and understanding. But unfortunately they are under the thumb of a bunch of gangsters posing as acolytes of a nonexistent deity, which is the reality we must deal with.]

  6. Lee Says:

    I strongly disagree that trying to put yourself in another’s shoes is a meaningless hypothetical. It depresses me that you do consider it so. 😦

    [FSR: what I deemed “meaningless” was your hypothetical of Iran having troops in Canada, which would mean a world very different from the actual one; analogous to the hypothetical of my being female. That does not impugn the idea of trying to see the (actual) world from another’s eyes, to understand where he’s coming from.]

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