Tag Archives: iran

Romney’s wtf comments about Iran

One hardly knows where to begin…

“If I were Iran, if I were Iran—a crazed fanatic, I’d say let’s get a little fissile material to Hezbollah, have them carry it to Chicago or some other place, and then if anything goes wrong, or America starts acting up, we’ll just say, “Guess what? Unless you stand down, why, we’re going to let off a dirty bomb.” I mean this is where we have—where America could be held up and blackmailed by Iran, by the mullahs, by crazy people. So we really don’t have any option but to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon.”

Notice, his description of Iran 1  describes them as ‘crazed fanatics’.  Well, if that’s how you view them, then I suppose there’s no need bothering to treat them like rational actors.

And that, my friends, is just the sort of thinking that can lead us to war.  After all, if the commander in chief thinks that the Iranians aren’t motivated by things like security (Iranian generally or the ruling party’s more specifically) then I guess there’s no need to try to ease those concerns in order to reach an agreement.  It is a view that equates the Iranians (and let’s face it, probably most of the rest of the world) as creatures that respond to only one thing:  pain.

Like the gay kid whose existence offends you, the only thing to do is to throw them down, have some of your buddies restrain him, terrify him and cut his hair.  Or, just keep implying that if Iran doesn’t unconditionally surrender we’ll be the ones wiping someone off the map.  Don’t bother thinking that such talk might actually cause the Iranian government to hurry up and build a bomb lest they join Iraq and Afghanistan as nations that have hosted large numbers of U.S. troops.

It also (I think) fundamentally misunderstands Americans.  Does anyone really believe that if Iran said ‘We’ve got a dirty bomb in Chicago..Do what we say or else.’ we’d cower and cave?  If other countries actually believed that why wouldn’t they say it now?  There’s no need to actually have a dirty bomb (you could hide one in a huge city).

Why?  Because pretty clearly any nation that made a threat like that would receive a counter threat that said, if a dirty bomb goes off here, be prepared for a nuclear storm to rain down on all your cities.

But again, that requires you to think that the Iranians are rational actors.  And when you’ve got Romney who wrote a book called ‘No Apologies’ and refused to compromise on a theoretical deal in which he could get a budget deal which gave him a spending reduction to tax increase ration of 10 to 1 you really have to wonder who is the crazed fanatic.

  1. and who knows if that’s shorthand for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad(who doesn’t have supreme power), Ali Khamenei (who does have most of the power but hasn’t said the more inflammatory things that Ahmadinejad has), or just a general statement about Iranians in general.

What the MeK?

Well, I’m sure this is going to end well.

An Iranian group called the Mujahedin-e Khalq is fighting to get its name off the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.

Wait…what?  Terrorist organizations get to lobby the U.S. Government for redress of their grievances?

Yeah, apparently they do.  Well, so long as they don’t like the same people we don’t like.  See, the MeK don’t like the current Iranian government and would like to rule the country instead of them. So, some people in the US Government are thinking that this is a great opportunity to join forces.  We throw the current Iranian government out of power, the MeK take over…everyone’s happy, right?

Am I the only one who remembers what happened the last time we supported a ragtag bunch of insurgents against a nations state in the belief that it was in the long term interests of the US?

Voice of America has a nice set of articles and videos about the MeK.  As you watch this, think about what other terrorist group that was involved with the targeting and killing of Americans (even 30 years ago) would get not only a chance to be exonerated but be set up to receive American support.

More shocking is the support (in many times compensated) the MeK gets from politicians and policy makers.  Now, if you’re a brown person sending $100 to Uzbekistan to support jihad you’ll be looking at some serious jail time.  If you’re a former Bush appointee or Governor you’ll get…a boatload of money from a terrorist organization* and plenty of time on 24 cable news shows to spin your way to the bank.

Glen Greenwald is correct.  This is ‘material support to terrorism’ and against the law.

I wonder how much al-Qaeda would have to pay to get an ‘all is forgiven’ pass from these guys?  Rudy Guiliani…what’s your price?

This is where a clear statement that America will not support terrorism would be appropriate.  Unfortunately, just as in the the administration’s decision not to investigate war crimes for the torture of prisoners, this is another black mark on the idea of the US being a nation of laws

*Hey, what a coincidence these people are getting paid the same amount of money that suicide bombers were paid for blowing themselves up in Israel.

Yep…that’s what terrorism looks like

So, two (admittedly anonymous) ‘U.S. officials’ have now come out and said that Israel is behind the campaign to assassinate Iranian scientists.  I recently got in a minor flame war on a Linkedin forum (how that happened, I can’t explain…HUGE waste of time) when I suggested that said campaign was terrorism.

Everyone else argued that it clearly wasn’t.  Reasons why were varied in detail but could all be placed in the ‘The U.S. and Israel say they don’t conduct terrorism so if either was behind it, it can’t be terrorism.’

And that, ladies and gentlemen is the cracker-jack logic that brought you the invasion of Iraq.

Well, you’d think this might settle the argument (such as it is) but it probably won’t.  Still, let’s give it the old college try:

Deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by an Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service, U.S. officials tell NBC News, confirming charges leveled by Iran’s leaders.

The group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran [MEK], has long been designated as a terrorist group by the United States…

Well, that’s something Iran and the U.S. can agree on.  The MEK has been declared by both counties (along with Iraq) as a terrorist organization.

Wait…wait…it gets better!

The group’s leaders had a cozy relationship with (drumroll, please)…this guy.

Saddam recruited the MEK in much the same way the Israelis allegedly have, using them to fight Iranian forces during the Iran-Iraq War, a role they took on proudly.  So proudly, they invited NBC News to one of their military camps outside Baghdad in 1991.

Really, you can’t make this stuff up.  Certainly, there can’t be any more, right? A history of killing Americans and getting on the list of terrorist organizations. Hiring themselves out to be proxies in Iraq’s war with Iran in the 1980s. Other than that, I’m sure they’re clean.

Ooops…how about a side order of genocide.

The [MEK]s last major offensive reportedly was conducted against Iraqi Kurds in 1991, when it joined Saddam Hussein’s brutal repression of the Kurdish rebellion.

That would be this rebellion.

And we can link the MEK to the first attack on the World Trade Center and even 9/11!

The U.S. suspicion of the MEK doesn’t end there. Law enforcement officials have told NBC News that in 1994, the MEK made a pact with terrorist Ramzi Yousef a year after he masterminded the first attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.

That connection between Yousef, nephew of 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, and the MEK was first reported in a book, “The New Jackals,” by Simon Reeve. NBC News confirmed that Yousef told U.S. law enforcement that he had worked with the MEK on the bombing.

So, an organization which has been hostile to American interests (both directly and indirectly) has been hired and trained by a country which has uber-ally status with the U.S. Anyone want to bet this inconvenient corner of the War on Terror will be brushed under the carpet?

As usual, Paul Pillar does a great job in cutting to the chase.

Amid all the reasons for dismay and outrage over this, there is also an irony. One of the oft-repeated rationales for the conventional wisdom that an Iranian nuclear weapon would be unacceptable is that it would somehow turn Iran into a regional marauder that would recklessly throw its weight around the Middle East in damaging ways. Well, there is an example of a Middle Eastern state that behaves in such a way, but it isn’t Iran. This state invades neighboring countries, ruthlessly inflicting destruction on civilian populations, and seizes and colonizes territory through military force. It also uses terrorist group proxies as well as its own agents to conduct assassinations in other countries in the region.

But instead of any real examination of our policy, we can expect continued declarations that there will be ‘no daylight’ between Israel and the United States.

The next time a terrorist tries to attack us we won’t have to ask ‘Why do they hate us?’ We can just look at our unquestioned support of a state sponsor of terrorism and know that it’s because of what we do.

Torture, terrorism and Iran

One of my LinkdIn groups posted this articlefrom Commentary magazine.  It’s title will tell you everything you need to know about the content of the article.

“Killing Iranian Scientists is Not Terrorism”

The argument (such as it is) revolves around the old idea that everything America does, by definition, is good and pure and Iran (and, I suppose the rest of the world as well) is evil and base.  Therefore killing foreign nationals isn’t a problem so long as it’s in our national interest.

And let’s be clear.  The killing of Iranian scientists, if done by (or by the direction of) a foreign power is an act of terrorism.  Just look at the FBI’s definition:

International terrorism involves violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any state, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or any state. These acts appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping.

So, let’s dispense with any nonsense discussion about whether this is terrorism or not.

This seems to have parallels between this and the Orwellian discussion about torture that’s seemed to have died down (but not resolved).  And in that vein, I’ll recommend this article from the Atlantic that does a little ‘compare and contrast’ between our ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ and the Inquisition.

The Inquisition, with its stipulation that torture and interrogation not jeopardize life or cause irreparable harm, actually set a more rigorous standard than some proponents of torture insist on now…the Bush administration put forth a very narrow definition, arguing that for an action to be deemed torture, it must produce suffering “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” To place this in perspective: the administration’s threshold for when an act of torture begins was the point at which the Inquisition stipulated that it must stop.

Nice…always a good sign when you can’t even come out on top of a moral comparison with a movement responsible for the death of thousands.

Dan Drezner tries to figure out what the recent assassinations and public statements by both the US and Israel mean.  He puts some weight behind the categorical denials by US spokespeople that there was no US involvement in the assassinations while Israel gives non-answer answers that only draw attention and suspicion to themselves.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US has warned Israel not to launch any sort of pre-emptive strike on Iran so make of that what you will.

What may be the real shocker of this story is the report that Israeli Mossad agents, posing as CIA agents, recruited Pakitani terrorists to carry out assassinations in Iran.

Sounds like a bad spy movie, right?  Well, give this a read (really, check out this story).  At the very least it deserves a close look.  There is some ‘good’ news here (well, everything is relative).  It looks like the administration doesn’t give Israel a total blank check.

Israel regularly proposes conducting covert operations targeting Iranians, but is just as regularly shut down, according to retired and current intelligence officers. “They come into the room and spread out their plans, and we just shake our heads,” one highly placed intelligence source said, “and we say to them — ‘Don’t even go there. The answer is no.'”

Look, I’m not some shmoe who thinks Iran is some great country and the big, bad U.S. of A is out to kill a bunch of innocent people just to fill the pockets of some robber barons (ok, well maybe that last part a bit).  But C’mon. We have time and every reason to believe that Iran is a rational actor.  That means even if they got a bomb the deterrent from Israel and/or the US would make an Iranian first strike highly unlikely.

But we’re not even at that point yet.  Sanctions continue to bite, there’s clearly domestic unrest and Iran has few real allies.   Let’s not push Iran from pressure to negotiate to backs against the wall and nothing to lose.



About that whole ‘cyber war’ thing

Leave it to Paul Pillar to scoop me.  I had wanted to write a post about the Pentagon’s announcement that:

The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force.

Pillar, however, beat me to the draw with an interesting piece.  Since he only covered one of the two points I wanted to make, however, I still get to talk about it.

So, I see two (potential) problems with this whole thing.

  1. Since when does the Pentagon decide what we’re going to decide is an act of war?  Isn’t that a policy decision which should be made by political leaders?  (This is the focus of the Pillar piece).
  2. Assuming #1 is American policy AND assuming it comes out that the Stuxnet virus was an American (or Israeli, American-Israeli, etc) effort, does that mean we just committed an act of war against Iran?  How would/could/should we respond if Iran decides that the Pentagon is right, it was an act of war and they now feel they have the right to respond with military force?



A little bit of this and a little bit of that

I know my posts have consisted of a bit more fluff than usual but:

  1. I’m working on a project at work and need a bit of a break when I get to blog and,
  2. that’s one of the things I really enjoy about my little project here.  I can follow my whims and not get bound by artificial restrictions.

Anyway, I imagine I’ll be getting back to more weighty topics next week.  But for now:

Your Swedish headline of the day:

Blow for bishop as orgasm church flops

Comrade Bear shoots a whale.  Does the Kremlin count as his lair or should he really have a base under a volcano or something?

Putin held his balance in a rubber boat that was being tossed around in choppy waters off the Kamchatka Peninsula, and eventually hit the whale with a special arrow designed to collect skin samples.

Courtesy of Balko, more homeland security nonsense.  Seven people dressed up as zombies and decided to go to the local mall to protest consumerism.  Someone saw their PA system and, freaking out, called the cops who arrested them for:

…disorderly conduct and said the zombies’ homemade public address rig looked like a weapon of mass destruction.

The zombies sued and the city council decided to settle for $165,000.  Good for them.

YT sent me this article about the unveiling of the Iranian drone bomber thingy.  Leave it to the Iranians to screw up on the messaging…

“The jet, as well as being an ambassador of death for the enemies of humanity, has a main message of peace and friendship,” said Ahmadinejad at the inauguration ceremony, which fell on the country’s national day for its defense industries.

WTF does that mean?!  I guess he had an extra dose of crazy with his breakfast.

Is it me or would Putin, Assange and Ahmadinejad make a great league of super villains?  It wouldn’t be a stretch to give them superpowers…Putin could be like Colossus, Assange could be the Leader.  I’m not sure about Ahmadinejad…someone crazy and out of touch with reality…Green Goblin, maybe?

The legacy of the Arctic Sea?

Remember the Arctic Sea? It was the Finnish ship that was either hijacked, picked up some floundering boaters, suffered a radio malfunction, carrying illegal arms, or some combination of those.

One of the rumors swirling around was that the ship was carrying S300 surface to air missiles to Iran.   The idea was rejected by most (including myself…but what the hell do I know).  But, once the ship was recovered the story died and discussions of its possible cargo faded to the realm of water cooler speculation (What kind of water cooler do you hang around at?  eds.).

But then…out of the blue, Iran announced it had four S300s.  But wait, it gets more interesting…

The Fars news agency said Wednesday that Iran has obtained two missiles from Belarus and two others from another unspecified source. [italics added]

And even better

A spokesman for Belarus’ state military trade committee denied that any missiles had been transferred.

There are just so many ways this could play out, it’s dizzying.  Does Iran want Israel and the U.S. to think they have the S300 system (to deter an attack) and therefore might be willing to claim they have them, even if they don’t?  Would the U.S. be willing to downplay or deny the existence of Iranian S300sin order to avoid escalating tensions?  Would the Russians (or anyone else) want to thumb their noses at U.S. objections and sell a few of these systems to Iran?

So, is it possible that the Arctic Sea did have some S300s on board and that they managed to get them to Iran?  If so, could it be that the two IL-76s that the Russians sent purportedly to bring the two dozen sailors was really a deception operation to make everyone think that they had taken those S300s off ship and were sending them back to Russia when, in fact, they had already been delivered?

Kvick Tänkare

Great headline:  Monkeys hate flying squirrels, report monkey-annoyance experts. (h/t Boingboing)

IBM has created a web-based version of the CIA factbook.  There’s enough variables to filter, views to alter and colors to see that even the most jaded of you will start to drool. (h/t sources and methods)

Sitherine is coming out with a new game that looks fun.  Battlefield Academy is based on a free BBC game of the same name.  You can still play the BBC versions with allow you to fight the Battle of Trafalgar or the original games which takes you through Rome, the Middle Ages, Napoleon’s time and WWII.

Peter talks about the Soviet withdrawal from his country (Hungary).

FBI epic fail.  Wikimedia epic win!  Hopefully the FBI realizes they are in a hole and will stop digging.

Lung Hu has two great posts worthy of your attention both revolving around that Iranian scientist defector/abductee/whatever Sharram Amiri. If you like your international relations with a lot of alternate hypothesis you probably haven’t heard before, check it out.

Iranian military humor!

I saw this while catching the tail end of Christiane Amanpour‘s TV show…just brilliant.

YouTube Preview Image

Not to be confused with the quadrangle of unpleasantness…

Iran really needs a better quality of writers if they want to stay competitive in the propaganda game.  Even though I didn’t agree with the ‘AXIS OF EVIL’, I do have to admit it had a nice ring to it.  But really, the ‘triangle of wickedness‘?  How lame is that?

But wait, it’s even lamer because it’s not even a real triangle.  The Iranian regime identifies the members of the triangle as:  “the Zionist regime, America and their hired agents”

Now, you’ll notice there’s a bit of double counting going on there.  Agents, by definition, are acting on behalf of their paymasters and so should be considered representatives of them.  The pathetic attempt to count them twice is ridiculous and should be rejected out of hand.

Ah, good.

A State Department spokesman in Washington dismissed the accusation of United States involvement as “absurd.”

I would have preferred if the State department statement included a definition of the term triangle but that might have been seen as too provocative.

By the way…h/t Scott Adams via Sullivan.