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09 September 2005


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Isn't there much more to the story with Iran, though? From my understanding (and I'd like your input, of course, Colonel) in the early 1950s, Iran had a democratic, parliamentary republic. In 1953 the US fomented and sponsored a military coup and overthrew the elected government of Iran, and installed the Shah, a dictator. Turns out Iran had changed the terms of its oil sales to the US, and we didn’t like it. I believe they nationalized the oil industry. For the next 26 years, the people of Iran were oppressed, their freedom taken away by an American-sponsored tyrant. But the trade terms between America and Iran were great! Eventually, the forces of religious extremism and unrest grew and finally resulted in the theocratic revolution of 1979. The US would not turn over the Shah for trial, and so the Iranians took the embassy hostages. This is how our problems with Iran started, and it is mirrored with our interactions with other countries in the Middle East and around the world.

To me, this is a good example of a pattern I see repeated -- oppression breeds extremism. Am I off-base here?

In 1958, President Eisenhower asked his staff why there was a campaign of hatred against us in the Arab world. The NSC told him it was because our government's foreign policy propped up oppressive regimes throughout the Muslim world. The reason for the hatred has been known, and the practice continues.

Pat Lang


I don't believe you want my input. You are quite happy with your version of history. Enjoy!!

Incidentally, your facts are wrong. Iran was never a republic before 1979. mossadegh was the Shah's Prime Minister.



What part of the Iranian analysis is incorrect? Given what we have all seen over the last 10 days, their reading of the situation does not appear out of line.
Given our massive sucesses in Iraq, I really shudder at the thought that this administration and this military superstructure is responsible for ensuring safety from enemies foreign.

Pat Lang


The Iranians overestimate their ability to permanently disrupt the US. Other than that, their analysis is pretty good and reflective of their malevolence as an enemy.

There ARE enemies in the world and they are among them.

I could indulge myself in lecturing here about the history of Iranian-US relations and the general phoniness of the Islamo-Marxist school of history but I don't have the time and am concerned with existing threat. pl


Malevolence is impressive, but what are their capabilities?

Any action they take, or which could be attributed to them, would be an excuse to come down hard on them - and on us.

J Thomas

In case my previous post got lost and isn't just waiting for approval...

These iranian guys sound like they're way overconfident. That's bad.

The US fools were sounding way overconfident before but they aren't talking as much now. That might be good. It's a real bad sign when two sets of fools get overconfident about a war and start threatening each other. Hard for either fool to back down, they're likely to get into something that hurts them both.

It doesn't make sense to me that the iranians would publicly threaten us with terrorism against US civilians. They've seemed to me generally honorable people. They wouldn't make that threat unless they were desperate, or they believed we were utterly dishonorable ourselves. I'm guessing they think we're totally dishonorable, but they might be desperate too.

Pat Lang

J Thomas

They seemed previously to you to be "honorable people?"

Maybe so, if you think instigating the kidnap and murder of Americans in Lebanon to be honorable as well as the Al-Khobar Bombings in Saudi Arabia.

So, you think they would not mis-calculate in a comparison of their strength and ours?

You are mistaken. They are sure that their strength is as the strength of ten.

Are you a professor or a student? This sounds remarkably like an application of the "rational actor" model from the IR/Poly Sci. field.

I have watched people try to apply that model to the ME for decades. It always fails to provide forecasting of outcomes. Why? Contrary to the assumptions in the model, people in the Middle East have a different idea set than we do.

Remarkable. pl

J Thomas

Actually, from your quotes I think they *have* miscalculated their strength. And I'm afraid Bush/Rumsfeld may have miscalculated ours. Get two sets of idiots overestimating their abilities and egging each other on and absolutely refusing to do anything that might look like they're backing down, and you can get into an exceptioally bloody war.

Publicly threatening us with terrorist incidents on the continental USA? Don't their mullahs say they aren't supposed to attack the innocent?

FARS is quite a reputable source. Not that their interpretations are necessarily trustworthy, but if they say somebody in iran said something he probably said it.

I've lost track of the IRGC. Are they an official group? It wouldn't bother me nearly as much to see weird things from Pat Robertson or the Socialist Workers Party as it would from the JCS or the Defense Secretary.

I try rational-actor approaches, lacking anything better. Since other people have a different idea set from me (pretty much everybody does) what I need to do is find out what I can about the idea set in each case. And noticing where it fails is a good first step. Luckily I'm not in charge of policy so the nation doesn't suffer while I'm low on the learning curve.

Pat Lang

J Thomas

This administration? Who knows.

Yes. The IRGC is an official group, just as the Waffen SS was an official group although legally a party militia.

FARS is a "reputable source?" You really like these guys.

If you want to learn to understand the Iranian Shia idea set go study history, the religious sciences, their literature, language, etc. pl


I would not dismiss the rational actor approach off hand.

The approach has failed to predict well in the ME because underlying motives and incentives have been incorrectly understood and/or assigned.

Given the correct base understandings, I think the approach predicts well.

A thought/question, The best form of government in the Muslim world - from a US interest and security perspective - is a friendly strongman, not a democracy.

Pat Lang


the problem is that so few really understand the local cuture. without that and the acceptance of the advice of real experts, the rational actor model is crap. pl

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