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theDuke866
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regardless, that's a million miles away from "the CIA slung this pawn into the teeth of the persian beast just to incite an American war against them"

1/10/2012 1:28:26 AM

adultswim
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A university lecturer and nuclear scientist has been killed in a car explosion in north Tehran, reports say.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16501566

There goes another one.

1/11/2012 9:10:47 AM

Tarpon
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U.S. Coast Guard Cutter rescues Iranian sailors in the Persian Gulf. Bravo Zulu USCG!
http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/envoy/u-ship-rescues-iranian-fishermen-again-174041301.html

1/11/2012 9:57:24 AM

smc
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^Could be propaganda to distract attention from our assassination of that scientist.

Or he could have just fell out of favor with those in power. I find either scenario equally likely.

With the largest military cuts in decades just announced and abysmal political popularity throughout american government, there is as much reason to be suspicious of u.s. military reports as iranian ones.

At the very least you can bet the army PR machine has orders to drum up all the positive human interest stories it can. It's not outside the realm of possibility that this extends to wagging the dog in some fashion.

1/11/2012 10:34:52 AM

ben94gt
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why is the coast guard in the middle east?

1/11/2012 11:14:14 AM

Tarpon
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The Coast Guard works as part of the Navy. We mostly provide maritime security for the larger navy vessels as well as security for the oil rigs and tankers over there. My unit and several others are currently in Iraq, Bahrain and Kuwait helping to train the Iraqi Navy.

I never understand why there is this huge assumption that the Coast Guard doesn't operate overseas???

1/11/2012 12:05:40 PM

pack_bryan
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^^

1/11/2012 12:21:19 PM

smc
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Maybe it's the name. You know, a force that GUARDS our COAST. I guess Junior Varsity Navy Drug-Sniffing Dogs doesn't have the same ring to it.

1/11/2012 2:39:19 PM

bbehe
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By that logic the AIR Force shouldn't have ground forces...but they do.

1/11/2012 2:41:39 PM

smc
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Perhaps I'm old fashioned, but it seems that keeping at least one wing of the military in reserve and stationed at home for actual defense is a good idea. To be fair, kicking towelhead ass is much more fun than delivering refugees desperate for freedom back to Cuba to face punishment from their brutal dictator.

1/11/2012 2:45:50 PM

bbehe
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Then you have the most useless branch of the military that is not accustomed to any kind of big troop movements, logistics of major operations, etc. I'm not talking about just military engagements, but large scale humanitarian aid missions such as Japan, Haiti, Pacific Tsunami etc.

When you had Haiti, it was a group of like 6-12 US Air Force Combat Controllers who orchestrated the airfield management/air traffic control of hundreds of planes bringing in relief supplies. They got this experience from deployments (some strategic operations, some peaceful humanitarian aid)

The US will always have troops at home, they get rotated with troops who are downrange, for home defense. However, to suggest you have a branch of the military that doesn't deploy or go OCONUS for defense? What experience will they have?

1/11/2012 2:53:58 PM

smc
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We don't need any more "experience".

1/11/2012 3:06:49 PM

smc
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[Edited on January 11, 2012 at 3:09 PM. Reason : wrong thread, sorry]

1/11/2012 3:09:10 PM

Tarpon
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Quote :
"Perhaps I'm old fashioned, but it seems that keeping at least one wing of the military in reserve and stationed at home for actual defense is a good idea."


Hence the reason that every branch of the military has a reserve component and the reason we have an Army National Guard and Air National Guard.

I can kind of understand why most Americans don't understand what the USCG does because there are no movies other than the Guardian about them and the most exposure an average citizen gets to the service is seeing a search and rescue boat. Couple that with the fact that the entire branch is smaller than the NYC Police Dept and it leaves room for misinformation. I assure you however, that the USCG has and always will play a role in Americas wars domestic and abroad. I suggest you research the long standing partnership between marines and coast guardsmen... /rant

1/11/2012 3:11:02 PM

Prawn Star
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Quote :
" It seems like Iran is trying to provoke a military conflict.

Kind of a strange thing to do..."


C'mon, moron, you're not that stupid, are you?

Just in the past few months, the US has invaded Iran's airspace with spy drones and committed an act of economic warfare against them. The Iranian Rial lost 70% of its value in just 1 month after Obama's financial sanctions. The US conducted military exercises right in their backyard, and we have military bases in every country surrounding Iran except Syria. Our closest ally in the region is murdering nuclear scientists with impunity. All the presidential candidates except Paul keep talking about invading Iran, and Obama is pressing for some kind of worldwide boycott of Iranian oil.

I can forgive Iran for being a bit paranoid about a former US military officer being in their country, and for flexing their muscles on the only bit of leverage they have, namely partial control of the Strait of Hormuz.

[Edited on January 12, 2012 at 2:15 AM. Reason : 2]

1/12/2012 2:12:34 AM

GrumpyGOP
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Actually provoking a military conflict would be a very, very strange thing for the people in charge of Iran to do. Actual war guarantees that they don't get to be in charge of Iran anymore, and more to the point probably don't get to be alive anymore. They're not stupid. They saw what happened to the ruling elites in their neighboring countries.

Quote :
"we have military bases in every country surrounding Iran except Syria. "


1) Iran does not border Syria.
2) I don't think we have any bases in Azerbaijan, Armenia, or Pakistan, all of which do border Iran. I believe we did have some in Pakistan until quite recently, when our relationship with that country soured, but we don't anymore.
3) We've almost vacated Iraq and practically handed that country over to Iran for them to fuck with, not that they weren't doing so already. We're about to do the same in Afghanistan.

Quote :
"Our closest ally in the region is murdering nuclear scientists with impunity"


They've been killing and helping to kill Americans and Israelis with impunity for years now. They don't exactly have a blank check for "righteous indignation" on this count.

---

Up to a critical point, the latest fury of outrages from Tehran are...acceptable. Everyone gets to puff out their chest and look tough, domestic audiences are satisfied, and the missiles don't start flying. I don't think either side actually wants a fight, but if they go too far, they'll fall ass-first into one.

Whoever's pulling the strings in Iran is trying to mollify somebody -- the domestic audience or other factions within the government, I'm not sure which. There has been more news lately of a growing rift between Ahmadinejad and the real leaders of the country. Everyone's favorite brown lunatic might have limited power, but he can talk all kinds of shit if he thinks it will keep a grasp on the authority he does have.

Our own situation is a little more transparent: it's an election year, and everybody wants to look like a big swinging dick on foreign policy. So -- especially in the primaries, where one has to court a not-terribly-bright conservative base with a nuclear hard-on -- Republicans talk like they're willing to turn Iran into glass. Obama can't look like a pussy, so he ups the drones and the economic attacks. General election comes around, everybody calms the fuck down, and we don't end up doing all that much of anything.

The scary proposition is that the Iranian leaders don't get it that all our bellicose posturing is just pre-election bullshit and start treating it as so real that it requires preemptive action. (This isn't to say that Iranians or anybody else is especially ignorant in this regard -- even Winston Churchill, who had an American mother and claimed to be an expert on Americans, still occasionally had trouble grasping important aspects of US politics; it led to some unnecessary friction in the years before and during WWII)

So anyway, if they misread us and do something that goes too far, we misinterpret that action and think it's indicative of a broader offensive, things escalate and then go all to shit. That's the worst case scenario. I'd like to point out to both sides that this scenario does not involve evil imperialism or pan-Islamic theology. It would -- and I'd make the case a lot of wars are similar -- a case of paranoia and miscommunication.

1/12/2012 2:57:45 AM

theDuke866
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" I'd make the case a lot of wars are similar -- a case of paranoia and miscommunication."

1/12/2012 3:48:37 AM

pack_bryan
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"GUARDS our COAST only"


smc what a dumbshit

1/12/2012 10:58:20 AM

smc
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slurp

1/12/2012 8:03:54 PM

The E Man
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Theres a possibility Iran is getting key information they need from these guys and then killing them when they don't need them anymore and making it look like Israel is doing it.

1/13/2012 8:28:13 AM

moron
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THe assassination of these Iranian scientists sits really uneasily with me, I have to say. I know it seems somewhat arbitrary, but that feels like its crossing the line.

1/13/2012 8:46:35 AM

adultswim
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^
It's cool man. Hillary Clinton can assure you that the US played no part in this and strongly condemns it.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2012/01/201211244648837585.html

lol

1/13/2012 8:57:36 AM

d357r0y3r
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In one of the debates, most of the GOP candidates said that murdering scientists was fine with them. In fact, Newt said (outside of a debate, I think, but in a public setting nonetheless) that we should be assassinating nuclear scientists...but covertly.

1/13/2012 10:18:35 AM

moron
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I feel like assassinating scientistsis a good way to steel the resolve of a country to get nukes.

1/13/2012 11:31:00 AM

GrumpyGOP
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The good news is that I don't think anybody -- including the Iranians -- thinks we're the ones that have been assassinating scientists. These killings have "Israel" written all over them, and I bet it's just killing Tehran that they can't quite prove it.

I'm not sure about the morality of it all, but this assassination business does seem like a bad strategic move. Your odds of killing off enough scientists to stop the program are low. Your odds of goading the Iranians into doing something stupid are high. Overall, doesn't seem worth it.

1/13/2012 12:33:25 PM

adultswim
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http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/11/iran-scientist-death-israeli-warning

1/13/2012 12:55:42 PM

lazarus
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Quote :
"Actual war guarantees that they don't get to be in charge of Iran anymore, and more to the point probably don't get to be alive anymore."


Unfortunately, mad regimes, by definition, do not tend to have a good grasp of what exactly will lead to war, or their demise.

1/13/2012 3:03:03 PM

d357r0y3r
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The problem is that, by your definitions, anyone that doesn't want to be the United States' bitch is "mad". A country that wants to generate energy for itself, or - God forbid - defend itself, is considered insane.

Sanity, on the other hand, is telling every country what they can and can't do. It's telling everyone on Earth what they're allowed to consume, what they're allowed to keep, and what we're allowed to take. It's indefinite detention. It's endless war. It's war profiteering.

You're not insane, but you are an idiot for actually believing that the leadership of Iran is "insane". Every day I look at U.S. policy and I think to myself that this has to be some kind of fucking joke. Sensible policy, in the U.S., is "radical", "fringe", or "extreme". On the other hand, unsustainable and immoral policies are championed as "moderate" or "pragmatic".

Your mistake is dismissing what you perceive as "the enemy" as deranged, rather than taking an objective look at the facts surrounding the situation.

[Edited on January 13, 2012 at 3:19 PM. Reason : ]

1/13/2012 3:18:38 PM

theDuke866
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Quote :
"Unfortunately, mad regimes, by definition, do not tend to have a good grasp of what exactly will lead to war, or their demise."


I think that most regimes are more rational actors than you give them credit for, particularly if you don't give them confusing, conflicting indications to decipher.


Quote :
"I'm not sure about the morality of it all, but this assassination business does seem like a bad strategic move. Your odds of killing off enough scientists to stop the program are low. Your odds of goading the Iranians into doing something stupid are high. Overall, doesn't seem worth it."


I don't think anyone has any intention of stopping the program via covert action like hits on scientists, Stuxnet, etc. The idea is just to continue to buy as much time as possible and continue to look for opportunities and real solutions...because the other options at the moment are accepting nuclear proliferation in Iran, or military strikes on their facilities (which might still not really permanently fix the glitch, and would have major negative consequences, but would certainly induce much more extensive delays).

As far as goading them into doing something stupid, I mean, like what? Pursuing nuclear weapons? That ship has sailed. Shutting down the Straits of Hormuz? I think they know better than to pull that shit--we'd sink anyfucking thing that would float that even smelled Iranian, and blow up all of their SSM sites on the coast...and probably blow up all their nuke sites, too.

Straits of Hormuz closure by them and significant airstrikes by us--to include any nuclear facility we know of--are a package deal. If either side does one, the other side will almost certainly do the other.

They might step up their support of anti-Israel terror groups, or try again to execute something like their attempted hit on the Saudi ambassador on American soil...but I don't see hits on their scientists inciting any really catastrophic response on their part.

1/13/2012 3:54:32 PM

adultswim
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"Pursuing nuclear weapons? That ship has sailed."


There is still no concrete evidence of this.

1/13/2012 3:56:58 PM

Shrike
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http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/13/us-obama-iran-idUSTRE80C26V20120113

Interesting article, basically details how the Obama administration tried and failed to get Iran to play nice. Some of the highlights:

Quote :
"Early in his term, the president sent a personal letter to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khameini, who holds ultimate power, to show the seriousness of the outstretched hand. "A letter from the president was the clearest signal of our intentions that we could possibly make," a U.S. official said.

The United States and Iran do not have formal diplomatic ties.

Obama was closely involved in writing the letter that took account of their differences on nuclear and other issues, made clear there were two paths, and expressed a desire for a different kind of relationship, officials said. It was also a test to see if a serious dialogue could begin.

And in an unprecedented March 2009 Persian New Year message to the people and leaders of Iran, Obama repeatedly referred to the "Islamic Republic of Iran." It was a recognition of the formal name of the government and a signal that "regime change" was not the U.S. policy."


Quote :
"But Khamanei's response to Obama's 2009 letter contained nothing encouraging that the administration could act on. A second letter was sent to Khameini tied to that response."


Quote :
"In October, in direct talks in Geneva, the United States and its allies offered nuclear fuel for a civilian nuclear reactor in Tehran. In exchange, Iran would ship its enriched uranium outside the country, where it would be rendered unusable for a potential nuclear weapon.

Iran never picked up on the offer. The final straw when Iran declared in February 2010 that it would begin enriching uranium up to 20 percent."


Quote :
"Obama is still open to an Iranian overture for serious negotiations on its nuclear program, officials say. Indeed, that is the ultimate goal of the pressure strategy, they say.

"We have a number of ways to communicate our views to the Iranian government, and we have used those mechanisms regularly on a range of issues over the years," White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said."


Seems like the ball is in Iran's court. Yeah, we have a fucked up history with them and they have every reason to mistrust us, but that shouldn't matter in 2012. They've been given opportunities to prove they aren't pursuing nukes, and even offered help with advancing civilian nuclear energy programs. But if they are hell bent on becoming nuclear armed while remaining totally obstinate in international diplomacy, what options are there? Iran can't have it both ways. If they want to join the international community, they have to play by the rules.

^The US intelligence community agrees according to this article,

Quote :
"U.S. intelligence agencies say there is no evidence that Iran has decided to move forward with building a nuclear weapon. But experts point out it is taking steps to lay the groundwork so it can move quickly if that decision is made."


[Edited on January 13, 2012 at 4:16 PM. Reason : :]

1/13/2012 4:14:31 PM

d357r0y3r
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^^There's no evidence whatsoever. There's some alleged evidence put out by the U.S., but it's unverified, and given the United States' past willingness to totally fabricate evidence, no one should take it seriously.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_program_of_Iran#Laptop_and_.22alleged_studies.22

There's enough evidence to conclude that Iran is enriching low grade uranium. There's no evidence that they are anywhere close to having weapons grade uranium. It doesn't jive with standard U.S. propaganda, but those are the facts.

[Edited on January 13, 2012 at 4:15 PM. Reason : ]

1/13/2012 4:15:02 PM

adultswim
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^^
So they gave Iran the chance to become dependent on foreign nuclear fuel. That's really a shitty offer. They should have every right to develop enrichment technology themselves. It seems these negotiations are pretty biased.

Also highly enriched uranium has uses other than weaponry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enriched_uranium#Highly_enriched_uranium_.28HEU.29

Quote :
"HEU is also used in fast neutron reactors, whose cores require about 20% or more of fissile material, as well as in naval reactors, where it often contains at least 50% 235U, but typically does not exceed 90%. The Fermi-1 commercial fast reactor prototype used HEU with 26.5% 235U. Significant quantities of HEU are used in the production of medical isotopes, for example molybdenum-99 for technetium-99m generators.[7]"


1/13/2012 4:28:04 PM

Mr. Joshua
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Quote :
"doesn't jive"


doesn't jibe

1/13/2012 4:37:58 PM

d357r0y3r
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Thanks.

1/13/2012 4:42:04 PM

lazarus
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"I think that most regimes are more rational actors than you give them credit for, particularly if you don't give them confusing, conflicting indications to decipher."


One of the most startling examples of Ahmadinejad's madness was his decision to dispatch plain clothes goons to crack the skulls of peaceful democratic protesters. I'll let you decide for yourself whether that decision was the result of "confusing, conflicting indications."

[Edited on January 13, 2012 at 5:09 PM. Reason : ]

1/13/2012 5:09:07 PM

theDuke866
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He got away with it, didn't he? ...and I bet they didn't protest anymore after that.

Regardless, what does that have to do with foreign policy and madly flailing your way into an insane war where you'll doubtlessly be annihilated?

1/13/2012 5:37:10 PM

Pupils DiL8t
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http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/01/13/false_flag?page=full

Quote :
"Buried deep in the archives of America's intelligence services are a series of memos, written during the last years of President George W. Bush's administration, that describe how Israeli Mossad officers recruited operatives belonging to the terrorist group Jundallah by passing themselves off as American agents. According to two U.S. intelligence officials, the Israelis, flush with American dollars and toting U.S. passports, posed as CIA officers in recruiting Jundallah operatives...

... Jundallah, according to the U.S. government and published reports, is responsible for assassinating Iranian government officials and killing Iranian women and children..."

1/13/2012 10:04:18 PM

GrumpyGOP
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Quote :
"Unfortunately, mad regimes, by definition, do not tend to have a good grasp of what exactly will lead to war, or their demise."


In the relevant international relations sense, I don't think the Iranian regime qualifies as "mad" or, better put, "irrational." They want to stay in power. Based on the information available to them, they will take the logical steps to stay in power. If they have a poor grasp on what might lead to war, it's because the information they've got is flawed.

The country isn't run by a bunch of mental patients.

Quote :
"The problem is that, by your definitions, anyone that doesn't want to be the United States' bitch is "mad"."


In realist IR terms this isn't so terribly far from the truth. The strong do what they wish and the weak do what they must. We're the strong. If we, the strong, say, "Don't do this or we'll wipe you out," and you do it anyway, you're not making a rational decision. (Unless, of course, you have good reason to think we're bluffing or can't/won't follow through with our threats) It might be the righteous decision, but by definition any decision that you know will lead to your destruction is not rational.

Quote :
"One of the most startling examples of Ahmadinejad's madness was his decision to dispatch plain clothes goons to crack the skulls of peaceful democratic protesters."


That may be the decision of a prick, but it isn't necessarily the decision of an irrational actor. He judged -- accurately -- that he could suppress opponents to his regime and get away with it.

1/14/2012 5:50:03 PM

theDuke866
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Yeah, I had to read that seemingly nonsensical post a few times to even understand what he was trying to say, and even then, I just kinda guessed, based on my knowledge that lazarus views foreign policy through an idealist's lens.

1/14/2012 6:26:19 PM

lazarus
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Quote :
"That may be the decision of a prick, but it isn't necessarily the decision of an irrational actor. He judged -- accurately -- that he could suppress opponents to his regime and get away with it."


Madness and shrewdness are not mutually exclusive traits. Plenty of psychopathic serial killers are able to evade the authorities for years, even decades. But it would be impossible to seriously argue that murdering loads of people qualifies as rational behavior, or the behavior of someone particularly concerned with self-preservation. Qaddafi's, Hussein's, [insert deposed dictator here]'s barbarism (which I think qualifies on its own as madness) worked, too, until it didn't.

Quote :
"based on my knowledge that lazarus views foreign policy through an idealist's lens."


Rather have that than that of a fucking cynic, the main difference being that the latter is easier as it requires you to take a position on precisely nothing.

[Edited on January 15, 2012 at 11:11 AM. Reason : ]

1/15/2012 11:05:55 AM

y0willy0
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http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/01/15/iran-warns-arabs-not-to-replace-iranian-oil-if-its-embargoed/#ixzz1jWH5Y8Pf

dunno if true but wow.

1/15/2012 11:38:49 AM

GrumpyGOP
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Quote :
"But it would be impossible to seriously argue that murdering loads of people qualifies as rational behavior, or the behavior of someone particularly concerned with self-preservation."


Hussein didn't get ousted for treating his people like shit, much as I wish he did. Qaddafi proved that you can be a total shithead for forty years and not get kicked out until you've already outlived the life expectancy for a person in your country. Meanwhile, Lenin, Stalin, Kims Il Sung and Jong Il, and plenty of lesser despots have proved you can get away with it forever. Hitler and Hussein probably could have murdered everyone they could get their hands on without interference, if they hadn't started some poorly-conceived wars.

You're throwing around "madness" in a very loose, not very meaningful way. If treating your people like shit equates to madness, then very few leaders (or even people) in history have been sane. FDR locked up all the Japs, and he let segregation and Jim Crow plug happily along throughout the war. And we elected him four times. This is not to mention his signing off on an enormously expensive program to build a theoretically possible weapon that, if it worked, would be the most terrible thing ever constructed by man. If these things don't make him "mad," you've got a weak case for these despots. And if they do make him "mad," well, nearly everybody is crazy and the whole thing sort of starts to lose its meaning.

Quote :
"the main difference being that the latter is easier as it requires you to take a position on precisely nothing."


Horseshit. Taking a realist angle doesn't mean having no positions or opinions. I'm sure Duke thinks, as do I, that sending in plainclothed goons to crack protester skulls is an absolutely shit thing to do, and we should act to prevent and punish such actions as we are able. But they are not an inherently irrational thing to do. This is a very, very important distinction to make. When you can see your adversary as rational, you can figure out what he wants, what his limits are, and you can try to manipulate his actions. When you think they are irrational, your only option is to annihilate them.

The argument is basically Batman: The Dark Knight. The mob guys are all pricks -- they kill people, sell drugs, practice extortion, whatever, but they're rational pricks in spite of that. They want to get their piece of the pie, not rock the boat. The Joker is a prick and he's irrational -- all he wants to do is fuck with shit for the sake of fucking with it. You're trying to tell me that Iran is the Joker. I'm saying it's the mob. Try to remember that they're both bad guys.

1/15/2012 3:08:23 PM

GrumpyGOP
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Double post, but I don't care:

I was thinking earlier that maybe we should call Iran's bluff, TELL them to block the Strait of Hormuz. Saudi Arabia has already said it'll make up for the shortfall in crude, and all the indicators I've heard say they have the ability to do just that. Prices will go up some, sure, more out of uncertainty than any major supply issue.

Meanwhile, Iran is left with a customer base of...China. Maybe India. Both of which, I've heard, have made it clear that they'll buy the oil -- but on terms heavily favorable to them.

Result? Iran makes roughly the same off its oil as it did before, whereas its arch-rival, Saudi Arabia, is selling a shit-ton more oil and at higher prices to boot. In other words, they're making money hand over fist (even by Saudi standards). Tehran would have shot itself in the foot in a big way, and wouldn't have much choice but to slink its piss-ant navy back into harbor and abandon the blockade. They get humiliated, their relative power in the region is diminished, and we top it all off by sending a carrier task force into the Persian Gulf just to prove we knew it all along.

1/15/2012 3:18:06 PM

moron
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^ you should be working for the State Department.

Outside of oil, why do we like Saudi more than Iran?

If Saudi Arabia started building nukes, would we threaten to bomb them like Iran...?

[Edited on January 15, 2012 at 3:27 PM. Reason : ]

1/15/2012 3:26:17 PM

aaronburro
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Quote :
"Seems like the ball is in Iran's court. Yeah, we have a fucked up history with them and they have every reason to mistrust us, but that shouldn't matter in 2012."

Really? The fact that we overthrew their gov't in order to put in our own puppet leader who ended up being a brutal murdering dictator shouldn't matter? The fact that we put Saddam Hussein in power to provoke a war with them not even 35 years ago shouldn't matter? Jesus Christ, dude.

Quote :
"It might be the righteous decision, but by definition any decision that you know will lead to your destruction is not rational."

If you think that the only rational decisions that can be made are ones that keep you alive. Others might disagree. Would you say that the founding fathers were being irrational in their push for independence, when pretty much any outside observer expected them to be destroyed on the field of battle?

^ I'm firing from the hip, here, but I doubt there is a good reason that we like the Saudi's more than the Iranians. Maybe the Bush's were just better friends with the Saudi's back in the day. Or maybe we just started liking the Iranians less since 1950 when they got all uppity and it just continued like that.

As for the nukes, I doubt we'd do too much. The pretext for "IRAN CAN'T HAVE NO NUKES!!!" is that Iran is an evil nation.

[Edited on January 15, 2012 at 3:46 PM. Reason : ]

1/15/2012 3:44:09 PM

GrumpyGOP
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"Outside of oil, why do we like Saudi more than Iran?
"


The hostage crisis, primarily. Same reason we funneled weapons and money to Saddam during the 70s and 80s, even though we knew he was a shitbag, too. Iran fucked with us in a very personal way by messing with the embassy. Maybe we had it coming, maybe we didn't, but that's not what you asked. Realistically, we'll continue supporting anybody in the region who is the anti-Ayatollah.

Quote :
"If Saudi Arabia started building nukes, would we threaten to bomb them like Iran...?"


Well, this is a tricky question. A Saudi Arabia that started building nukes would necessarily have a very different regime. The Saudis our government knows and loves are the Saudis who continue to think -- rightly, I suspect -- that it is in their regime's interest to play nice with us, and part of that means not pursuing nuclear weapons.

Quote :
"Would you say that the founding fathers were being irrational in their push for independence, when pretty much any outside observer expected them to be destroyed on the field of battle?
"


No, and for several reasons, most of which revolve around the idea that a decision can only be deemed rational or irrational based on the information at hand. No one fighting for the Continentals in the Revolutionary War knew they were going to die. In fact, unless I misremember, the war was like most in that the majority of participants did not die, although of course your odds of buying the plot were higher than if you'd just stayed home and farmed. Rationality is not about avoiding all risk, but there is a healthy chunk of "not actively pursuing your own destruction."

To an "outside observer," the information probably looked very lopsided in favor of the British, who had more guys, guns, ships, training, etc. To George Washington, things probably looked a bit more balanced, because he knew things that the observer might not be expected to know: that we were courting the French, that we were willing to jump into guerilla tactics, that we had a home-grown army fighting a defensive war on its own turf. He and the other founders judged, accurately, that they could wear down Britain's resolve and force a surrender. If they'd thought they didn't have a chance in hell and fought anyway, that would have been irrational.

All rational decisions to fight stem from your estimation of your opponent's resources and resolve, and the latter is at least as important as the former. The USA had and has vastly more resources than Vietnam, but Ho Chi Minh and pals judged -- again, with reason -- that we didn't have the resolve to commit to a full-blown war or the use of the A-bomb.

1/15/2012 5:40:49 PM

aaronburro
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"No one fighting for the Continentals in the Revolutionary War knew they were going to die."

Likewise, how can you say Ahmadinejad KNOWS he will die. The likelihood that the founding fathers would prevail wasn't very high, either.

Quote :
"In fact, unless I misremember, the war was like most in that the majority of participants did not die"

no, but if they had lost, the founding fathers most assuredly would have been executed.

methinks you are conflating "rational" with "self-preservation." The two are NOT the same

[Edited on January 15, 2012 at 5:51 PM. Reason : ]

1/15/2012 5:50:20 PM

theDuke866
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"Outside of oil, why do we like Saudi more than Iran?"


Well, for one thing, not only are they not Iran, they are the anti-Iran. They are one of the most dominant players in the region (if not a regional hegemon). While the Wahhabism imposed on/embraced by the rank and file is rather repressive, the House of Saud has long had a streak of Western education and being less insular, in a few cases being outright playboys. They have a long history of quid pro quo with the West in economic, intelligence, and military matters. It's not unlike our historic alignment with Pakistan, largely because they were the anti-India, who was a Soviet client-state of sorts for many years.

As far as the Bush family's Saudi ties, I'm sure being in the oil business is part of it. Don't forget, though, that President H.W. was previously director of the CIA, taking over the position right around the same time that the American and British educated Prince Turki (who actually attended Georgetown with President Clinton) took over as director of Saudi intelligence.

1/15/2012 6:10:56 PM

GrumpyGOP
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"Likewise, how can you say Ahmadinejad KNOWS he will die."


Oh, he might not die, but he knows that a war with the US does not end with him holding a position of authority. It's as much about regime survival as it is that of the individual, especially when regime collapse has such a very high probability of imprisonment and/or subsequent execution.

Even in the unlikely event that the regime remained intact after an Iran-US war, it would be materially weakened. That's a certainty. When you've got as much boiling dissent as Iran does, that's bad news bears.

There's not an angle by which the Iranian regime benefits from open conflict with the US. Fighting at all destabilizes it, which is undesirable to them. Losing means regime change, which is obviously undesirable. Even a (Pyrrhic) victory sets them back quite a bit, especially relative to their rivals in the region. It's a lose-lose proposition, and rational actors don't take those. Whereas the founding fathers at least had a decent chance to win, and win big.

Quote :
"no, but if they had lost, the founding fathers most assuredly would have been executed."


They could have fled, and many probably would have succeeded. The key here is that there was not an American regime to preserve. If you're a revolutionary bigwig and you lose, you run out west at the loss of some personal wealth. There's not the entire machinery of a country trying to stay alive.

To repeat: I'm not narrowly talking about the survival of Ahmadinejad or the Ayatollah. These two individuals could be nuttier than a bag of squirrel shit and still not cause the government to act irrationally. There are a lot of other individuals -- generals, politicians, business leaders -- with a vested interest in rational action on the part of the state. And it's pretty goddamn hard to fight a war without these people.

Quote :
"methinks you are conflating "rational" with "self-preservation.""


Not precisely. Rationality is seeing "2" and "2" and coming up with "4". Irrationality is seeing "2" and "2" and coming up with "a bag of walnuts." Or, to put it into geopolitical terms, it's seeing "overwhelming American military power" and "enough resolve to end your government" and coming up with "We're gonna win this one!"

Now, we can take the side track here called "Things worth dying for." I can maybe see a suicidal decision being a rational one -- maybe -- if we're talking about something "worth dying for." Now, if you want to tell me that Tehran thinks a nuclear program is worth dying for, I'm gonna call you a fruitcake. National pride -- the desire not to have terms dictated to you -- also doesn't work as an argument when the probable outcome of conflict is a significant reduction in national power and prestige.

1/15/2012 6:39:28 PM

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