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Nuking Iran: End of America and Beginning of What for Europe?

by Captain Future Wed May 24th, 2006 at 08:50:12 AM EST

In an interview with CNN, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Iran is months away from developing a nuclear weapon, not the five to ten years that most experts estimate.  He said that while Israel is not contemplating unilateral military action, he "expressed confidence" that President Bush "will lead other nations in taking the necessary measures to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power."  

We don't know if Olmert urged military action when he met with Bush Tuesday, but the spectre of U.S. bombing of Iran in the near future must again be faced. Presumably, planners are anticipating possible military and geopolitical responses to bombing targets in Iran.  But is anyone thinking about the geopolitical consequences of one possible aspect of such an attack--the use of nuclear weapons?

 Because this act is in itself highly consequential.  If it were to happen, it could well mark the beginning of the end of the U.S. as a world power, and certainly change how this country is viewed in the world, forever.   This in turn raises issues for Europe, which I will address briefly at the end of this long but (I hope) fascinating essay.

From the diaries - whataboutbob


In a previous essay, I wrote about the realities of radiation, and the policy of secrecy and lies that masked these realities. Today the subject just isn't talked about.  Nor is the subject of this essay: the moral and geopolitical dimensions of the specific act of using nukes, even the so-called bunker-busters of relatively small yield (though they may be far larger than the Hiroshima bomb.)

The atomic bomb was "invented" by the same person who invented the armored tank, trench warfare, the bombing of cities from the air, suburban sprawl, the Blitz, television news and the Time Machine.  Though the first such Bomb would not be built and exploded until 1945, H.G. Wells foresaw---and named--the atomic bomb in 1913, in a novel called "The World Set Free."

    This novel, written before World War I, was not just remarkably prescient. It actually affected the real development of the atomic bomb.  

    Physicist Leo Szilard read "The World Set Free" in Berlin in 1932.  Its story--of the discovery of atomic power, of the ensuing atomic war that destroyed the world's major cities, and that war's outcome--deeply impressed him.  About five years later, a number of puzzling experimental outcomes were beginning to suggest the reality of what Wells had proposed (based on his intuition of what Einstein's 1905 theory of relativity and Frederick Soddy's work on radiation implied): splitting the atom to release immense energy.  

    In 1938, when Szilard realized how to create a chain reaction, he remembered Wells' tale of a disastrous nuclear war.  Until Hitler took over in Germany and even for awhile afterwards, discoveries in physics were freely shared internationally.  But warned by Wells' novel to the danger of his discovery, Szilard decided to keep it secret.  

    Szilard left for America, where he worked with Enrico Fermi, who had emigrated from Italy with his Jewish wife when Mussolini began to adopt Hitler's persecution of Jews.  When Szilard was sure an atomic bomb was theoretically possible, he discussed it with Einstein, who had also recently fled to America from Berlin.  As a result of their discussion, they wrote the famous letter to FDR that Einstein signed, warning of the Bomb and the likelihood that Germany would pursue it, and urging the U.S. to develop it first.

    Szilard eventually worked on the Manhattan Project, but when Germany was defeated and no German Bomb had been built, he got Einstein to write another letter to FDR, urging that the U.S. Bomb not be used in the war.  After FDR's death, he also led 69 other Manhattan Project scientists to write and sign a similar letter.  He argued that using the Bomb against people would undermine the moral authority of the U.S. after the war, especially its ability to bring "the unloosened forces of destruction under control."

    Szilard realized two things that he might also have learned from Wells' novel: because it was so immensely destructive, the atomic bomb was going to be the center of the largest moral questions the world had ever faced, and the geopolitical reality of the world had changed, because warfare with atomic weapons could destroy civilization and perhaps humankind itself.

    These two areas--the moral and the geopolitical--were fused together by the first atomic explosion.  They are fused together still.  But for the purposes of analysis, let's look at them separately.

    Morality, War and the Bomb

     When Islamic armies were the most powerful in the world, conquerors of Asia Minor and North Africa, and poised at the gates of Europe in the 8th century, Abu Hanifa, founder of a school of law in the city of Baghdad, proposed that the killing, maiming and raping of civilian noncombatants in war be forbidden. It was one of the first attempts to codify some kind of moral and legal restraints on civilized societies engaged in the dangerously uncivilized practice of warfare.

    Though from its inception, the intent of bombing was to terrorize people rather than to destroy military targets, there was still widespread moral opposition to the bombing of civilians and cities, until World War II.  The moral outrage expressed in probably the most famous work of art depicting warfare, Picasso's "Guernica," immortalized the horror of the first terror bombing of a civilian population in Europe, by German bombers aiding the Franco forces in Spain.  

    While Americans remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor (a sneak attack, but on a very military target) and the British remember the Blitz, Germans may be justified in recalling the years of nightly bombing by British planes, culminating in the firebombing of Dresden, and Japanese the incessant bombing of practically every city in Japan by Americans.

By the time of Hiroshima, bombing cities with the express purpose of destroying them and killing people was a regular feature of the war on all sides.

    But people were still troubled by the morality of killing the innocent, even when they half-believed the half-truths of their governments about the purpose and necessity of the bombing.  The atomic bomb was so destructive over so large an area, that any pretence that it was a strategic weapon was impossible to maintain. "In 1945, when we ceased worrying about what the Germans would do to us," said Leo Szilard, "we began to worry about what the United States might do to other countries."

    When the world began to find out what really had happened in Hiroshima, moral revulsion became attached to the Bomb and its future.  After "Hiroshima," John Hershey's account of the aftermath was published, this revulsion was particularly acute.  Even American military leaders, including General Dwight Eisenhower, Admiral William Halsey and General Curtis LeMay condemned the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  General Omar Bradley referred to "nuclear giants and ethical infants."  

Leo Szilard asked people to imagine what the feeling would be if Germany had dropped an atomic bomb on an Allied city, but still lost the war.  Would not that act be added to other war crimes at Nuremberg?

Though some of these figures became nuclear weapons supporters, moral revulsion became a widely and deeply felt reason for why the Bomb had to be controlled, and why it must never again be used.

    The Geopolitics of Apocalypse

    In Wells' 1913 novel, "The World Set Free," the atomic war leads to the inevitable conclusion that the world must unite in a single World State, or destroy itself forever.  In the novel, the world does unite---something else that Leo Szilard may have learned from it.

    After Hiroshima, many others quickly came to a similar conclusion.  Not only scientists like Szilard and Einstein, but writers like Norman Cousins' whose essay published immediately after Hiroshima, expanded into a best-selling book, suggested that humankind now faced extinction in an atomic war, and only a new world order could prevent it.  The main test humanity faced, Cousins wrote, is the "will to change rather than [the] ability to change...That is why the power of total destruction as potentially represented by modern science must be dramatized and kept in the forefront of public opinion."

    Cousins supported world federalism, and a United World Federalist movement arose in 1947.  Though many people considered world government as too idealistic, there was widespread support for the United Nations as it was being formed, and something amounting to almost a consensus that nuclear weapons must be brought under international control.  Even President Truman, who never regretted using the Bomb, believed that international control of atomic weapons was the correct goal.

    But nothing close to world government or even international control of nuclear weapons ever materialized.  Instead there was an arms race, principally between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.  As nuclear weapons grew in power and number, the basic sanity of humanity was called into question.  But as close as the world was to total assured destruction, it did not happen.

How the World Saved Itself

    What did happen was something few could have imagined, because it seemed so contrary to human nature and human history.  Without the restraint of world government, the nations possessing nuclear weapons engaged in warfare and the undercover violence called the Cold War.  But for sixty years and counting, no nation ever used a nuclear weapon against another.

    Why they didn't is not as important right now than the fact that they didn't.  The world was saved by forbearance.  It was saved by the common knowledge that if one nation used a nuclear weapon, the restraint on their use by other nations would be broken.  It was saved by a combination of moral revulsion and geopolitical realities.

Despite such pipedreams as fallout shelters and Star Wars, it was commonly known that there is no defense against nuclear weapons, and immense destruction was assured.  Eventually there were international agreements that limited the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and allowed the major nuclear powers to limit and then reduce their weapons.  But forbearance was the key to it all.  

    The U.S. under Bush has largely repudiated or violated many international nuclear weapons agreements.  It has attempted to aid another nation (India) in expanding its nuclear capabilities.  It has planned to add to its nuclear arsenal.  And now, under Bush, the first and only nation to use a nuclear weapon against an enemy population of men, women and children, is said to be contemplating the first use of such a weapon since Nagasaki in 1945.    

    The consequences of thermonuclear war between the US and the USSR were studied repeatedly, and in outline were well known: basically the annihilation of civilization.   The consequences are not widely known of nuclear devices becoming acceptable weapons in warfare at a time when many nations have some.    But it can hardly be doubted that this is an avenue to widespread catastrophe that may have the same eventual result.

    If the U.S. uses even one "small" nuclear device, the forbearance will be broken.  The moral revulsion and geopolitical realism could be cast aside, and nuclear warfare of an unpredictable kind could begin, with no way to end it.

The New World Order

    But what if moral revulsion and geopolitical realism holds?  What if the only nukes that are used turn out to be the ones the U.S. uses on Iran, at least in the immediate aftermath?  The consequences for the U.S. could well be severe and lasting.  Much of the world is already troubled if not disgusted with recent U.S. international behavior. (See for example the dKos diary by NBBooks that outlines several growing alliances that don't include the U.S.) The use of any nuke could unleash a tide of sentiment and action that could devastate the U.S. politically and economically.  Nuclear weapons still have potent symbolic as well as physical power.

The U.S. could become an outcast giant overnight, drummed out of the international community, treated with contempt.  Real penalties could be exacted through the UN and other international bodies.  Now that other nations are economically strong and America makes little of what the world needs, there is less incentive for allowing this violation--this most violent single act since World War II-- to be forgiven and forgotten.  As its debts are called in, America may find that its chief exports--Hollywood, weapons and garbage--are no longer sufficient to balance its offenses.

    Even if nations are cowed into silence by the U.S. willingness to use its greatest remaining source of world power--its nuclear arsenal--terrorism against the U.S. would undoubtedly increase, but the rest of the world will turn a blind eye.      

To break the nuclear peace is potentially the most consequential single act possible.  For it is only the remarkable shared forbearance on the use of nuclear weapons, a forbearance unique in human history, that has allowed civilization to continue. No matter how I look at it, it's hard to see this any other way: the day that America uses a nuclear weapon against Iran will be the darkest day in American history.    

      Europeans ought to be thinking about this possibility, even as European nations try to broker a negotiated settlement. Such an act might force Europe to assume Western leadership, and the West's role in the world, or go down with the U.S.  The trends on the relative position of the U.S. and Europe are ambiguous, at best.  But breaking the nuclear peace could change things dramatically, and very quickly.  

So besides exerting pressure on the U.S. not to be so foolhardy as to use nuclear weapons against Iran or anyone, Europe must decide what it will do if the U.S. does use them.  

Display:
Nothing. The UK under Blair/Brown/Cameron will ethusiastically agree with anything the US does because such servility is in their nature. They do not serve the UK's short or long-term interests, they are effectively agents for a foreign power.

Not only will the UK not condemn, but there's a whole load of ex-communist states that won't condemn either, especially Poland.

So the rest of the world will look for its moral leadership to countries such as Russia (!), China (!!) or the emergent left democracies in S America.

However, it should not be forgotten that, irrespective of shia-Sunni rivalries, the oil-producing states in the ME will not look favourably on such action. There could be much blowback on the US from them and europe may then be forced to choose a side. Betcha our political betters back the wrong horse.

There's no easy answer in such futurology. After all, if I was Ahmadinejhad I'd have a sizeable reprisal cell already established in the USA. With imagination it woldn't be too hard to deal the US a cripplng series of blows which would change he whole dynamic completely. But then again, I expected Saddam to have done the same. Such things are unknowable till they happen.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 05:06:22 AM EST
Juan Cole wonders if the Iranian mullahs will replace Ahmadinejhad with a less bellicose President....as it seems he is as determined to bring war down on them as Bush is to bring it...not a good combination. Meanwhile, everyone else fiddles...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 05:33:24 AM EST
I have too much respect for Cole to strongly disagree so I'll voice a minor concern. I am increasingly convinced of two facts:

1 -- Iran's government and its politcial regime -- the mullahs -- are more divided than ever before. They're approaching warlord-like status.

2 -- Ahmadinejad represents one of the most radical wings that would not dislike a showdown with the US, for religious but certainly political purposes.

That said, I am also starting to think -- to partly agree with Cole -- that Ahmadinejad has managed to create dissent within the radical wing that supported him before.

by STA (sta.blog@gmail.com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 10:58:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Iran's government and its politcial regime -- the mullahs -- are more divided than ever before. They're approaching warlord-like status.
Taifa kingdoms?

Maybe the US is just trying to give Iran the last little nudge in the direction of civil war. How nifty, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan all descended into civil war because of US intervention.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 11:05:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ther is an important point I would like to address.

Israel is not saying that Iran will have the bomb in a few months. They say that it will have the knowledge to construct the bomb.

Everybody agrees that Iran is five to ten years to develop a nuclear bomb. A much more tricky question is if they have the knowledge about what to do.

It is much more tricky because onceyou have the enriched uranium you need two scientific-technological breaktrhoughs...but this technological breakthroughs, if you know what to do in advance, are not that difficult to test (although difficult to engineer).

So it is very difficult to proof or disproof if Iran will have the knoweledge to develop a bomb...in any case engineering and its structure will last five years minimum.

I would love (well not really) to know all the details about the bomb.. but I do not. So I can not give an opinion about the claim purely on the merits.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 06:10:18 AM EST
Israel is not saying that Iran will have the bomb in a few months. They say that it will have the knowledge to construct the bomb.

Anyone graduating with a BS in Physics has "the knowledge" to build a bomb.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 12:02:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They are a national security risk. Round them all up and off to Guantanamo!

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 12:06:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I disagree.

After a suitable period of re-education many physicists are capable of leading productive and useful lives, of benefit to themselves and society as a whole, as gas station attendents, convinence store clerks, groundskeepers.  

Mathematicans, on the other hand ...

;-)


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 12:35:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not to speak of applied epistemologists.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 12:38:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Customer:  Can I have fries with that?
AE: That is permitted amongst all possible occurances.

Customer:  I would really like fries with that.
AE:  Please state the relevent qualia from which that conclusion was made.

Customer:  Give me some f*cking fries, you twit.
AE:  I'm sorry we don't purvey 'f*ucking fries' since sexual intercourse is an action outside the realm of possible Actional Properties of frozen or deep fried potatoes.

& so on.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 01:18:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We do provide sexual intercourse with commas, and fries look like long commas, so give me the pilkkunussija fries!

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 01:20:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An old joke...

What does one physics graduate say to another physics graduate?
Would you like fries with that?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 12:40:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's so not true. This is reserved for philosophy majors, not physics! TAKE THAT BACK! Selling fries and bartending are the most serious options for us.
by STA (sta.blog@gmail.com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 12:50:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, I studied theoretical physics, mathematics, and my thesis advisor works on category theory applied to quantum gravity. I have a higher claim to selling fries than political philosophers.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 12:53:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No way. I can't let this go. This is a matter of defending our geekhood. There is just no way that people would give you the same look when you tell them that you major in philosophy or physics. It is not the same...

In addition, people respect physics but everyone apparently is a philosopher, or say they say. In airplanes, I first go through the stripsearches at security as a middle-eastern, but once on the airplane, I don't admit doing philosophy...that makes for very long flights. I usually say I do biochem or even theoretical physics. People admire those and won't ask questions.

by STA (sta.blog@gmail.com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 02:53:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Geekhood? Philosophy students sit elegantly in coffee shops and read Kierkegaard while physics students dress awkwardly, have pimples, and play Dungeons and Dragons.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 04:03:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't admit doing philosophy...that makes for very long flights. I usually say I do biochem or even theoretical physics. People admire those and won't ask questions.
Kinda like Americans pretending to be Canadians? </snark> [I think we had a whole family of those on the Eurostar train from London to Paris last Saturday... either Brits are too gullible or I'm an incorrigibly cynical eavesdropper]

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 04:05:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We are not pretending, we are practicing.  Ah, no thats not it, Uh...nope not that either... I know, eh?

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 01:59:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's that all aboot?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 03:00:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are tricky practicalities that courses don't tell you: it's very pluridisciplinar, with mechanics, materials sciences, explosive... A number of nobel-grade physicists had accidents during the Manhattan project, some lethal. But of course, if you assume you have a steady stream of qualified technicians willing to die testing manufacturing processes, it all gets a lot easier...

Pierre
by Pierre on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 12:11:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And that is the other part of it.

"Knowledge to Build" and "Building" are two very different things requiring different methodologies, infrastructures, personnel, & etc.

On the other hand, there is a global glut of Physicists, so killing some of them off would benefit the species as a whole.  :-)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 12:25:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All the way through the bomb there are mixtures of physics and material and physics-chemichal knowledge that it is required...which is not in text books.

So, no physicist will know how to make a bomb after graduation.. I would even doubt they would recognize one if they would see it..before detonating.

That say... You are completely right.. The dispute about the knowledge and the infraestructure is a real one...Another issue is whether once you know how to build a nuclear plant the scientific technical problems of the explosive and its control is dumb easy or very difficult... From what you get from the news it seems there are a couple of important details/breakthroughs to crack once you ahve the enriched uranium. Is it true?

An open question to anyone with a BS in Physics worth of the name...:)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 12:50:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I disagree: the principles are very simple but the implementation is horrendously complicated. The principle of uranium enrichment using gas centrifugues is as simple as the clockwork of a pacifier, it's the fact that you need several thousand centrifugues in cascade that makes it hard to achieve in practice. For an implosion [Pu] bomb you have to have fast electronics and get the timing of the implosion detonations exactly right, and so on. An U bomb is a simple concept: just assemble a critical mass out of two subcritical masses.

It's definitely not a physics problem but an engineering problem. 60+ years later, the details of the Manhattan project is part of physics folk-lore [including the details of some of the accidental deaths].

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 12:59:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok. I trust you.. but I am not sure there are no important technologial or physical knowledge involved in the implementation of this basic principles.

I mean, although the main principles are understood, there is a second rang of knowledge quite complex mainly from engineer but they also require some specific knowledge that I would also link with physics.

I do not think you or me would be able to get the bomb even with the best engineers in the world....but maybe I am wrong and everything is pure engineer...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 01:08:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that you and Migeru are in agreement. Even if the physical principles are simple and the hard part is pure engineering, this engineering (in general -- not just for nuclear weapons) can require specialized and hard to obtain knowledge. The needed knowledge is typically of multiple kinds that involve principles from multiple scientific disciplines, and this must be combined with practical, experience-based knowledge of how things work that are too complex for scientists to fully understand.

My work can perhaps best be described as applied physics, on the more theoretical side. This gives me an acute appreciation for the gap between physical principles and general engineering knowledge, on the other side, the specific, detailed knowledge necessary to turn sound concept into working reality.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 01:41:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another joke.

A mathematician, a physicist and an engineer try to build a bridge. The mathematician's bridge collapses, and he doesn't know why. The physicist's bridge collapses, but he knows exactly why. The engineer's bridge stands, but he doesn't know why.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 01:44:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There be a goodly dollop of truth there.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 01:57:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In France we have a variant, with the "Centralien" (former student of Centrale school in Paris) as the mathematician, the Polytechnicien as the physicist, and the "Gad'zarts" (former student of the Ecole des Arts & Métiers) as the engineer.

Pierre
by Pierre on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 02:10:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gee...Where did I put my BS in physics...??? I have to scrap it.. I have no clue about how to make a bomb.....

How did the hell I passed nuclear physics?? I wonder...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 12:42:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 02:09:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please diary that poster.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 02:13:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean write a diary about it?  Well, I suppose it's more fun than the sex-trafficking story I was going to write...  Though I'm not sure exactly what you want.  Recipes? ;)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 02:23:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is that a classic poster, or a modern joke?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 02:36:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm... I really don't know.  I used to have it up in my kitchen about 10 years ago.  I'm sure it's a bit of modern snark, but just how modern I don't know.  And Google won't tell me.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 02:53:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This may be true for women (they are dangerous). Being a man, I have a pretty clear notion of where I would start the design of a bomb, but I'm clueless in a kitchen. So it's not a really an ordered scale.

Pierre
by Pierre on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 02:14:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the day that America uses a nuclear weapon against Iran will be the darkest day in American history.    

Europeans ought to be thinking about this possibility

I've been thinking about it since 9/11. In the run-up to Iraq my office mates and I thought it was not too far-fetched to imagine the US using one. There is too much talk of "usable nukes", "preemptive strikes", and "credible deterrence" coming from the Bush administration to discount the possibility.

Like Helen says, the European governments will do nothing. We'll see what the second superpower, world public opinion, can exact from the governments of the world. It may not be much, to judge by the 2003 anti-war demonstrations.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 07:33:21 AM EST
Excellent post.
I think that in the event of a US nuclear attack on Iran this might create centrifugal tensions in the EU with a non-zero probability that the union will be torn apart, either to nation-states or two or more sub-groupings...

Anyway: I'd like to contribute a link to the full text of Szilard's 1945 petition.  At the end of the petition there is this note:

Source note: The position identifications for the signers are based on two undated lists, both titled "July 17, 1945," in the same file as the petition in the National Archives. From internal evidence, one probably was prepared in late 1945 and the other in late 1946. Signers were categorized as either "Important" or "Not Important," and dates of termination from project employment were listed in many cases. It is reasonable to conclude that the lists were prepared and used for the purpose of administrative retaliation against the petition signers.


The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 08:03:41 AM EST
I think there is zero probability of Germany, France, Italy and Spain being torn apart (thanks to the Italians for giving Burlesconi the boot). They are 4 of the 6 largest countries in the EU and party to all the treaties without exception (like the Euro, and Schengen: this unlike the UK and Poland, the other 2 of the largest 6 and not part of the Euro or Schengen).

So the centre will hold. I really don't know about Poland and the UK.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 08:13:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...the UK and Poland, the other 2 of the largest 6 and not part of the Euro or Schengen.

---

Poland was granted the status of a "big" EU Member State in view of what it may become in future, but certainly NOT because of what it is now.

Denmark has a slightly higher GNP than Poland - is Denmark a "big" EU Member State?

Sweden's, Belgium's , Austria's, GNP are each 1.5 times greater than Poland's.

And think about this: The Netherlands has a little bit more than 1/3 of Poland's population but a 2.5 times greater GNP.

Are The Netherlands "smaller" than Poland?

To put things into perspective - Germany has a 12 times greater GNP than Poland.

Now, there you have it: Poland is an economical dwarf in the context of the EU! And if that was not yet enough...the Pope won't support the US policies of (nuclear) aggression against Iran.

As to the UK: If the UK government would be in any form supporting an US strike against Iran, it will either be brought down by mass protests, and certainly

  • be condemned by the EU Parliament,
  • shamed by the rest of the EU Member States, and
  • put in political quarantaine.

It would result in a decisive 'casus knacktus' and lead to the long overdue moment of truth:

Will the UK government politically endorse and will the British people vote for the adoption of the EU Constitution, or will they leave the Union?

A new referendum - shortly held after a US nuclear strike against Iran - will be positively decided by the Dutch and French voters.

The EU will be strengthened - with or without the UK.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 08:36:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm referring to Poland as "large" in terms of area and population, not in terms of GDP. The EU is, after all, a political entity and not only an economic entity. MEPs and votes in the council are allocated on the basis of people votes, not money votes.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 08:40:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When the going gets rough there's only one question asked: "Show me the money." And that is exactly the language our Washington think-tank trained neocon friends in the Polish government tend to understand.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819
by Ritter on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 09:23:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently they're not interested in spending the loads and loads of money that the EU is prepared to pour into Poland.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 09:25:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's not the point.

The point is that Germany and France have a plan "B" on how

  • to deal with the hegemonistic US policy,
  • the US attempts to divide the EU,
  • the reluctance of the UK to support further political union, and how
  • to pass the European Constitution in France and The Netherlands.

The German social-democrats AND christian-democrats have recently come out into the open and have made it quite clear what will happen in the next months (under the German EU Presidency).

I pointed this policy's essence out above, which consists in these three points:

  • Let the UK vote herself out of the club,
  • make Poland face reality,
  • get the EU constitution signed.

Should the US begin a war of aggression against Iran it will certainly have a big influence on the British and Polish peoples' decision with regard to the European Constitution project.

But be that as it may, the table is set.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 02:31:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
make Poland face reality,

The reality in Poland is that there are roughly speaking two large blocs of voters. The ones that elected the current coalition goverment are center to hard left on economic issues and hard right to extreme right on everything else. They also vary from moderate to extreme euroskepticism. The voters for the opposition parties are moderate to extreme neo-liberals in economic matters and  center right to mainstream left on everything else. They also are moderately to very pro-European integration.  On foreign policy the ruling bloc is all over the map - from full bore neo-con to Linke (or rather NDP) level hostility to neo-con foreign policy. The opposition ranges from hardline pro-Americanism to classic moderate Atlanticism.

So integrationist anti-Atlanticists left wingers in the rest of the EU have a problem - the pro-Europe electorate in Poland disagrees with them on just about everything. Those that are closest to them on other issues happen to be semi or full blown fascist Franco worshipping nutcases who think the EU is a liberal-commie-Jewish-freemason conspiracy to destroy Christian civilization.

There is a good deal of truth in your money comment though - a lot of it could get the Poles to accept stuff they otherwise oppose. So would an immediate opening up of all of the EU countries to Polish employees. Are rich country voters willing to put up that sort of cash? Are workers in places like France or Austria willing to accept the influx of Polish workers?

by MarekNYC on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 03:02:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The social-liberals vs national-populists distinction has been quite prevalent in the new accession countries, and it is beginning to be quite visible in "Old Europe" as well. This was exactly the Oui vs Non coalitions in France. The Non won as well in France.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 03:12:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The christian-national-populist parties on the continent are facing a rift.

The old ideologic consensus has been ever more put under pressure by the non c-n-p party members, who identify themselves ever more with globalist, 'flexible', free market and neocon ideas.

This might lead to sa split.

Look at Italy when you want to see what might happen in Germany and France. The old, new left parties have come to form a viable (also partly ideological based) coalition with the christian-populist and statalist (yet very pro European!) parties.

The neocon globalists and greed based asocial middle class shop keeper whackos and regional secessionist rebel rousers are with the post fascists in the Berlusconi group.

The CDU/CSU lives the same tension.

Our message, to create a minimum level of cooperation, must be: Only a politically unified Europe with a progressive social agenda will allow the traditional conservatives to keep their christian - national - popular values.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 04:10:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The old ideologic consensus has been ever more put under pressure by the non c-n-p party members, who identify themselves ever more with globalist, 'flexible', free market and neocon ideas.

This might lead to sa split.

Look at Italy when you want to see what might happen in Germany and France. The old, new left parties have come to form a viable (also partly ideological based) coalition with the christian-populist and statalist (yet very pro European!) parties.

The neocon globalists and greed based asocial middle class shop keeper whackos and regional secessionist rebel rousers are with the post fascists in the Berlusconi group.

Or it could lead to the Polish type split - to use Jerome's French model, imagine the Trotskyists economic rhetoric married to Le Pen and de Villiers - i.e. the non coalition minus the left wing political leadership.

by MarekNYC on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 04:35:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by MarekNYC

"...So would an immediate opening up of all of the EU countries to Polish employees. Are rich country voters willing to put up that sort of cash? Are workers in places like France or Austria willing to accept the influx of Polish workers?"

The problem has been dealt with and is solved.

Germany, France and Austria etc. adhere to the 2+3+2 formula.

During the first two years they were free to set the rules for the influx of workers from new EU Member States. This first period ended on 1 May this year.

We are now in the second phase in which F/G/A etc. have to inform the EU Commission about the specific reasons and what quotas which will be applied to limit the influx of workers from the new MSs. This phase will end after three years in May 2009 when all limitations will be lifted and workers from the new MSs will be free to move, take up work and residence.

After 2009 F/G/A etc. can only limit specific groups of workers on very exceptional grounds. This thhird phase will however without possibility of extensions  in May 2011.  

PS. Right now Germany allows 500.000 Poles to work in Germany on temporary contracts.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 03:44:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem has been dealt with and is solved.

Germany, France and Austria etc. adhere to the 2+3+2 formula

I'm aware of that and how it works. What I'm saying is that for Poland to accept a left oriented integrationist policy it would need to be bribed. When you are trying to bribe someone you don't say 'hey, you've got all this stuff already, you don't need more', you just try to give them more than what they have.  

The fact of the matter is that major decisions in the EU require unanimity. There is no significant consitutency in Poland that supports what you support. So, either you bribe the Poles, you give up on your policy, or you take the time and effort to change minds - and that will take years.  Personally I favor a policy that relies mainly on the third option (not sure if any amount of bribery would get the current government to sign up), with a little bit of the first to speed things along.

by MarekNYC on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 03:58:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by MarekNYC

"...you just try to give them more than what they have."

The owner had illegal Poles working in my flat. They had more than they could handle. Vodka, starting at 8 o'clock in the morning. It ended, as it must, with a drunken guy (electrician) falling off the ladder, breaking both his legs. The ambulance came and his co-workers fled the construction site. Never came back.

A model for the EU?

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 04:26:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by MarekNYC

"...you just try to give them more than what they have."

The owner had illegal Poles working in my flat. They had more than they could handle. Vodka, starting at 8 o'clock in the morning. It ended, as it must, with a drunken guy (electrician) falling off the ladder, breaking both his legs. The ambulance came and his co-workers fled the construction site. Never came back.

A model for the EU?

Would an account of the drunken skinhead youths of the Ostlaender represent the German model for the EU? Or maybe lazy smelly effete French intellectuals?  Hey, trafficking in bullshit ethnic stereotypes is so much fun.

by MarekNYC on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 04:47:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose this is the end of this particular subthread, isn't it, guys?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 04:50:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ho, ho, don't run so fast! I was just taking your point that the Poles must be bribed and given more than they already have to the logical extreme. It was meant to show the absurdity of your proposal. Which, as you now seem to agree, it did.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819
by Ritter on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 05:46:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you think that a landlord hiring illegal Polish workers is "giving them more than they have"? That's very nice for a social democrat. How about letting them work legally so they don't have to work illegally in construction?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 05:57:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was meant to show the absurdity of your proposal. Which, as you now seem to agree, it did.

Yup, about the same way that a Southerner offering a nice anecdote about watermelons and lazy incompetent black workers would show the absurdity of the idea that giving funding to programs that help the black constituents of black politicians could be a way to get them to vote for something they ideologically oppose.  The humour is dubious, the argument eludes me, and coming from a German it is disturbing.

by MarekNYC on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 05:58:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My remark parodied Marek's bribe proposal and was  was refered to the workers drinking more than they could handle. Also, I want to point out, this really happened.

What you did, Marek, was that you tried to diffame the Polish people en bloc, you brought up the stereotype that one should bribe them in order to coerce them into agreeing with something they would otherwise reject. I took you up on your slur and put it into the context of a real life anecdote and asked you satirically if that was a model for Europe. You came back to me and said that it was NOT, because that would be stereotyping a people. I agreed with that, happy that you had seen the absurdity of your previous claim and that you agreed with my stance of rebutting it. Well done!

So what about Skinheads and African Americans. What have they to do with each other?

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 06:35:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What you did, Marek, was that you tried to diffame the Polish people en bloc, you brought up the stereotype that one should bribe them in order to coerce them into agreeing with something they would otherwise reject.

A country's political leadership will (or should) weigh the costs and benefits of a proposed policy for their population. Thus if you offer them something that will help their population in return for accepting something that they believe will hurt it, they might be willing to bargain.

The current government is dominated by those who feel that the EU as a political concept is intrinsically bad for Poland, but that the financial benefits outweigh those political negatives. Given greater economic benefits for the Polish population they might be persuaded to accept greater political negatives. A minority of the ruling coalition sees the EU as evil incarnate and thus no bargaining is possible. The opposition sees the political concept of the EU as neutral or good (depending on which faction), but sees it as too 'socialist' and in dire need of neo-liberal 'reform'. It believes those 'socialist' aspects hurt all Europeans, including Poles, but that the direct financial aid compensates for that. Again, more direct financial aid could get them to accept a more left wing inspired regulation.  I don't agree with any of those groups but my views aren't a particularly popular combination in Poland these days.

Your worker analogy might have made some sort of sense if you'd talked about Polish workers willing to take what they believed was a bad, dangerous job only in return for extra money over a safe one, but in reality it was a good job so they should just be somehow forced to take it without a danger premium because it would be good for everyone, including themselves.  

Also, I want to point out, this really happened.

I'm sure that the occasional lazy, incompetent watermelon loving African Americans exist as well - I'd still be unamused by some white guy from Georgia offering them up as illustrative anecdotes.

by MarekNYC on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 07:16:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by MarekNYC:

"...I'd still be unamused by some white guy from Georgia offering them up as illustrative anecdotes."

Mine was NOT an illustrative anecdote, but a ridiculous mirror image of your broad assumption, a stereotypical slur really, that the Polish people can be tricked by bribery into accepting policies they are normally opposed to.

Mind you, I did this without guessing the colour of your skin and your ethnic background. Which is not relevant at all.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Fri May 26th, 2006 at 07:20:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's take a look at who the "large" EU member states are...





A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 06:31:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What about NATO?

It is possible that NATO and the EU might become disjoint.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 08:17:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I sure have been asking myself this same question...and praying someone somehow stops Bush before it happens...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 08:51:42 AM EST

The global oil supply is too brittle to handle the removal of the Iranian oil.  Thus, we should see a dramatic upswing in prices across the petro-chemical industries and a concurrent reallocation of consumer purchases.

Anyway you want to play that the result is a global recession/depression at least as bad as the 1970s and it could get as bad as the 1930s.

 

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 12:12:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This may be the whole purpose: looking a Jérôme's story here, depression seems pretty imminent. If W can blame it on Iran's nuclear impulse instead of crappy policies, he may still put his brother in the white house in 2008 (you know that crap about regrouping behind the leader in time of crisis, in this case the leading clan).

Pierre
by Pierre on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 12:16:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Drug addicts, in general, and Bush, in particular, are incapable of using their higher cognitive functions: reality based abstraction.  Couple this with their general inablity to acknowledge the worth and existence of 'The Other' and I seriously doubt Bush is capable of thinking of anything beyond his own self.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 12:31:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Assuming that the reduction of the nuclear threshold does not lead to the speedy extinction of high technology human societies, I see two main geopolitical effects of the use of nuclear weapons by the United States.

The first would be the dissolution (or reduction to total irrelevance) of the remaining Cold War era alliances and institutions. The very concepts of 'the west' and the 'free world' would become obsolete.

The second would be the creation of a stronger Sino-Russian alliance, possibly involving other powers like Japan and India. This bloc would be likely to follow a policy of containment, similar to that used by the US against the USSR. The effect would be to begin a second Cold War, with the United States in a much weaker position than in the first one.

The next US President, if competent, would be well advised to make sure that the United States starts building up new alliances (perhaps with India and Japan more than Europe). He or she would also need to start the gigantic task of reviving a productive American economy. If the United States is to stand any chance of withstanding the challenges of the next century, its standard of leadership needs to greatly improve.

I would hope that the re-engineering of America would build on the best traditions of the United States, but it might be possible on the basis of a more authoritarian political and social system than before. What would be most dangerous would be a continuation of the status quo, which would be likely to accelerate American decline.

Some european countries would be more and some less supportive of the new America. I suspect the European Union, as a whole, would find neutrality in the global struggle the most congenial strategy to pursue.

by Gary J on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 09:19:05 AM EST
Our idiot government of Koizumi will accept and endorse Bush's nuclear attack on Iran, claiming it will strengthen the deterrent against North Korea and China. The increasingly militaristic and isolationist Japanese people, bombarded by government/rightwing propaganda, will easily buy into it. What an irony if a self-proclaimed "only victim" of nukes (untrue, as many Koreans were wiped out in Hiroshima) would welcome the third strike? In fact, Japan's endorsement will be highly helpful for Bush to silence the opposition in the US and UN. "See, even Japanese understand it was tragic but inevitable. Now, what are you complaining about?"

At least in the short run, the Bush strategy could work. Hard-line Iraqis will be awed, at least temporarily. Iranians may even choose to surrender, much like Kaddafi. Russia and China may become a little more respectful. Hamas may renounce violence formally. Noise machine will begin bombarding us with the-nukes-save-lives-once-again or It's-time-to-admit-Bush-is-genius, led by WaPo and NYT. Coincidentally, it is what the Pearl Harbor meant to us Japanese. We were fed up with the war with China, which we knew was not a threat but supposed to be an ally in a war against "Caucasian Imperialism" (replacing it with the Japanese domination as a role model). Then, on the morning of December 8, Japanese intellectuals were so excited that they later recalled that the sky was suddenly clearing. Not only did the navy devastate the Pacific Fleet, but sink the British battleships too.

Well, it will not end there, as the World War II did not end there for us. I have no idea what would happen later. But I am convinced only a miracle would save us from this alternative universe which will be ugly beyond all imagination. The latest news I heard from inside my idiot government is that any attack would likely to be after the St. Petersburg G-8. (So we can enjoy the soccer world cup.)

I will become a patissier, God willing.

by tuasfait on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 09:44:07 AM EST
Nuke strike on Iran?
This is 100% impossible. It's possible only in case of instant collective madness of George Bush and his generals. I believe even massive terrorist attack on US (bery improbable) will not cause retaliatory nuke strikes.

I think in near future (2006 and 2007) we will not see American or Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. In long term it's possible (the end of 2007 the earliest).

Why?

There are no favourable conditions for such attack yet and I believe in reports stating Iran needs 5 to 10 years to develop nuclear weapons and missiles. It means Bush will leave this opportunity to next president.

What we may expect in near future? I may state obvious and will not be original.

Much will depend on triangular relations between Washington, Moscow and Tehran. US will try to make breakthrough on sanctions and isolation of Iran building ground for military attack and trying to weaken it economically. On sanctions US needs proof of Iran misbehaviour and it's still missing (in Moscow view). Attempts to exert pressure on Moscow and Beijing will not be successful bringing only mutual irritation - the more pressure on Russia the more proofs Russia would ask. There are different obstacles to military action, mainly Iraq and economy sores.

Relations between Moscow and Tehran were never easy not because of many differences but due to lack of mutual trust, transparency and fidelity. Both sides should be blamed, for example Russia made secret Chernomyrdin-Gore deal in 1990's at Iran's expence (it was a peak of Russian subservience to American interests) and recent zigzags in Iran behaviour (diplomacy of Iran reminds me Ottoman Turkey in XIX century). Iran is making mistakes blocking its way to Shanghai Security Organization. Its ascension to SCO is theoretically possible in case of coordination of foreign policies and economic integration. So far the progress has been slow. Iran foolishly thinks that giving lucrative contracts he can secure military alliance with Russia.

I understand desire of Iran (as well of India, Pakistan) to have nuclear weapon and their dislike of unjust modern world where only European countries plus China dictate their will to the whole world. But the chosen path to justice is wrong. India and Pakistan acquired nukes under cover (with assistance) of great powers, they did not fear any military strikes. Maybe it was good for their stature not good for economies draining vital resources from immediate concerns. Pakistan is already failed state and this is matter of deep worry for the whole world. Iran may with time acquire needed technologies if it strengthen civil society, restrict religious authorities, promote economic cooperation and prove its fidelity to Russia or China if he chooses them as allies. It's clear ayatollas will never do it and thus making Iran very possible target of military strikes from US and UK in future.    

by FarEasterner on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 12:37:41 PM EST
I've asked in a few places whether or not Bush can be stopped from dropping nukes by military generals or some codified procedure. No one seems to know. I think it's important because there is zero chance that more than a couple generals would support nuking Iran. Even the most basic analysis by an average guy like me puts the risk/reward ratio pretty close to infinity.

As far as sanctions and isolation, economics trumps morals. Always has, always will. Nuking Iran and creating an energy crisis to go with severe economic contraction will fragment the world economy regardless.

On a more controversial note, I think having the US do the "dirty work" of keeping the middle east in the stone age helps more than a few Europeans (among others) sleep better at night, even if even thinking such thoughts isn't allowed for us "enlightened" westerners. I don't trust any country in the world with nuclear weapons, but a country with nukes without a legacy of public influence that is pretty close to a true theocracy scares me far more than a country like the US with its essentially out of control military industrial sector.

That isn't a vote for a preemtive strike. I don't think civilisation will survive the invention of nuclear weapons anyway. There is no solution to the ultimate problem that doesn't involve moral crimes on the order of what nuclear weapons can already do. Eventually, at a minimum, a "chance concatenation of events" is going to do us in Dr. Strangelove style.

Wow, you know, I didn't even write this up on a particularly bad day...

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 07:36:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and I thought I was the resident Kassandra.  you're making me look almost cheerful...

I keep considering the period during which Japan "gave up the gun" and trying to understand how this deliberate rejection of a destructive technology came about -- how did cultural values trump "arms race" logic and the race to the bottom?  something similar would have to happen to make humanity, under some kind of world inspection regime, give up nukes.  right now with the US rampaging around like the Incredible Hulk on a bad day, it's hard not to sympathise with any small state that wants a nuke or two -- like a homeowner in a rough 'hood who is scared enough to want a gun under the bed because the law is clearly breaking down.

but there have been instances in history where law and order were reasserted after periods of warlordism or chaos.  maybe if we understood how this happened we'd have something like a blueprint for avoiding the worst case...  this is as close as I get to optimism...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Wed May 24th, 2006 at 10:29:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A number of Democratic Members of Congress have drafted a letter requesting that Bush specifically pledge not to use nuclear weapons against Iran, so somebody thinks there is more than zero chance of it happening.

As to whether "the generals" would obey such an order, we of course don't know.  But in Sy Hersh's New Yorker article that first revealed the discussions about using nukes, several military sources were quoted in opposition, but none from the Air Force. The Air Force would be the ones to do it, so I find that pretty troubling.      

"The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

by Captain Future (captainfuture is at sbcglobal dot net) on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 02:03:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree. The military prepares and presents plans and budgets annually for things that are useful. They can't turn around and claim those "tactical" nuclear bombs are not supposed to be used, because that would have "strategic" consequences. Those discussions are reserved for idiot/insane policy planners, not the brass.

Just watch the uniforms at the national press club dinner during Colbert's performance. Not surprisingly, none of them showed anything remotely similar to a smile. They are Bush's sheep.

I will become a patissier, God willing.

by tuasfait on Thu May 25th, 2006 at 09:41:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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