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20 September 2007


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re. Irans nuclear weapons and Israel. If we are to assume that Irans opposition to Israel is in support of the Palestinians how could they bomb Israel without taking out the Palestinians or for that matter the Shia Lebanese in the North. Can the radioactive footprint of a warhead really be confined to such a small area?


For a brief history lesson on how wrong the neo-cons have been from the very beginning:

I wonder if any of the neo-cons have ever served in the military? I am not saying that they would need to in order to make good decisions regarding national security policy, I am just saying that it seems odd to me that they would use the military so frivolously. If the military is used as a first option, what other options are left?


While the Shahab is not an existential threat to the US, it does pose one to Israel. I'll leave the rest for your readers to decide.


Isn't Galbraith is a strong partisan and advocate for the Kurdish cause and for the soft partition of Iraq. Hasn't his views of the Shia and Sunnis always been shaped by this partisanship?

Nevertheless I found this Iran article insightful and thoughtful.


Col wrote: IMO, the US has refused to accept the idea of sharing power in the Middle East with the Iranians. That lies at the heart of our problem with them. All other issues are more sympton than anything else.

Exactly 110% right. I think the U.S. will either have to go to war to preserve its hegemony in the region, or reverse decades of hostility to Iran and agree to a "grand bargain" in the near future. Trita Parsi has written an excellent piece that is a good supplement to the Colonel's analysis:


al palumbo

Galbraith's been right so often it's a shame more attention wasn't paid to his views. But that's par for the course, isn't it?


Pan: "While the Shahab is not an existential threat to the US, it does pose one to Israel."

A Shahab with a nuclear warhead might pose an existential threat to Israel. The Iranians are a long way from having that capability.

And isn't Jerusalem, what?, the third holiest site in Islam?

frank durkee

It seems counterproductive to push regime change at the point of a weapon, when creating openings for global interaction for the Iranians would probably produce as much , if not more movement toward change. This is an administration that really understands only "my way or the highway". Except for the US rich it's not working especially well. In the final analysis we in this country lack the tryannical will to break and/or destroy people, unless they are profoundly weak and despised by the majority. so we shouldn't aqct like we do.


IMHO, your conclusion is wrong. Iran is probably already an existential threat to the US and to the West. And the beauty of it, from their viewpoint, is that they need neither nuclear weapons nor ballistic missiles. All they need is sufficient fire power to withstand a first strike and then wipe out the entire Persian Gulf oil infrastructure: Saudi Arabia's, Kuwaiti, Iraqi, etc. The West's prosperity and primacy would evaporate within a few hours.

If the Iranians don't already have the capability for mutually assured destruction, they would be stupid not to try for it.

The Revolutionary Guards have seen what happened to Saddam and the Ba'athists. As a result they might well decide to take the West down with them. After all, they would have nothing to lose, since a US attack would signal their journey to meet their maker is about to happen. Bush made a critical mistake by not sending Saddam and his cohorts to a cushy retirement...

W. Patrick Lang


You grossly exagerate the capabilities of the Iranians.


Yes. The Iranians are a long way from having a nuclear weapon (of any yield) that could be miniaturized and engineered to fir on a missile of their manufactire. Presumably they would not target Jerusalem.


Yes. If the fireball does not touch the earth the resulting fallout footprint will be very small. To do this one arranges a high airburst shot. pl


And I think that at the heart of our inability to share with the Iranians is the idea that they are "the enemy". Certainly we don't mind strong countries with an independent streak when they're our allies (we are able to share with Israel, as we were able to with the former Iranian regime). We get caught into a circular logic trap with countries like Iran; there our enemies because they're "strategic competitors", and their status as strategic competitor (instead of regional ally) depends on our view of them as the enemy.

That is to say, we don't look at what they might have to offer and wiegh the pros and cons of dealing with them. They are classified as the enemy, and that's that, no matter what benefits (to the US, and also to the Iranian) might be opened up by a mere change in classification.

I've long heard that Iran has one of the most pro-US populations in the Middle East. There are may goals we seem to share and the Iranian leadership has signaled its willingness to work with the US. Now all we need is some common sense in Washington.


>Further, they argued, Iran could never dominate Iraq, because the Iraqi Shi'ites are Arabs and the Iranian Shi'ites Persian. It was a theory that, unfortunately, had no connection to reality.

I think he's wrong there. And if Wolfowitz did say that, then why the hell weren't they courting al-Sadr from the start rather than DAWA and SCIRI?


Great point about power sharing, few thoughts:

1) Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Brzesinsky accurately predicted that if Russia's back could be broken in Afghanistan than it would have far reaching ramifications for the "reds" and communism elsewhere (Germany, Soviet Union proper, sub-states, etc.). The Russians pulled out.

Ironically, the US has gotten (lead) itself in the same situation in the region. Pulling out is not on option and that is what they are faced with.

Second point:

The media keep pushing this notion that Iran has limited offensive capability while pushing this whole nuclear issue and thought that Israel will/must attack. They need to decide if Iran is a threat or not. If Iran's military is delapidated and outdated and they don't have the electronics capabilities, then whats the threat and why is there a need to attack?


Thank you for the response Colonel. I did not know that it was possible to be so precise with nuclear weapons.

W. Patrick Lang


I was certified as a nuclear weapons employment and targeting officer. pl

Charles I

A big part of the problem is what Dr.Leo Strauss called the "cult of omnipotence in his essay about the counter-intelligence state that Pat posted a while back.

Compounded by the all too trite narcissism of these right wingnuts, which render them impervious to anything but nuclear powered cognitive dissonance. 43 is personally commanded by some god to usher in a new era of full spectrum dominance democracy in the ME. Dicky herds fish - I guess he's as good a fisherman as he is a shot.

This says it all. The planet is their plaything and they're entitled. They do not have to share, or even play fair in even the most pathetic or beatific of contests. Whether or not something must or can be done, they are blindly convinced that if they CAN do it, ipso facto, thats a good thing. Q.E.F.

But really, after all the criminality, the ditching of the constitution without a peep, a democracy blithely frittered away by Congress after the Supremes had their go at it, the utterly passive acquiescence to the most egregious and insulting dangerous bullshit, the tremendous amount of preparatory work dedicated to permanent political power, I see an Operation Northwoods as just routine war planning.

In any event, I'm sure Israel and the "terrorists" are all planning to have their respective oars in the water come election time. And that 43 et al stand locked and loaded just waiting for their "Shalit moment", a la the war crimes perpetrated against Lebanon last summer, as a justification for the further march of democracy through the ME - and the further smothering of it at home.

And Pat, that's not my little anti-American dig of the day. After a review of some case studies, Naomi Wolf posits a ten point schedule of how tyranny's develop in 'The end of America". First, comes the fear mongering and demonization of the requisite other. Check! Second, comes the appearance of secret prisons and torture. Check! Third comes the establishment of surveillance regimes for the domestic population. Check! . . . Okay, haven't read it yet, she was on Colbert last night, but i digress.
Even without a pretext of their own Flathead design, there are so many wild cards in play that a "legitimate" one is as likely as not to present itself to them. I don't see how they cannot have their way. They sure are used to having it now, albeit with unpredictable results that they have tremendous capacity for cramming into their paradigms, or ignoring altogether.

America is the Shia of the Anbar conundrum - it will only share when it is forced to share and it has a government capable of such perception. This usually entails quite a bit of carnage before the utility of sharing painfully bubbles to the surface like foamy blood around a sucking chest wound - if the patient doesn't die first. Carnage that hits home, not abroad. Carnage is already abroad.

Clifford Kiracofe

<"the US has refused to accept the idea of sharing power in the Middle East with the Iranians. That lies at the heart of our problem with them. All other issues are more symptom than anything else">

Quite agree.

This gets to the issue of us foreign policy and national strategy: global and regional. The GHW Bush-Cheney/Wolfie 1992 global dominance-hegemony strategy (remember that one?) was simply refloated in GW Bush-Cheney/Wolfie 2001-present and is essentially the present policy.

What I do not grasp -- and would welcome insights -- is the advantage the US gains from such a national strategy. We know with certainty from former Treasury Sec. ONeill that Iraq was at the top of W's agenda in 2001 at the first NSC meeting. We know with certainty the VP had an extensive global energy plan and objectives. We know with certainty from the former head of our central bank that oil was a major factor in going to Iraq.

But Iraqi oil, such as it was under UN conditions, was flowing TO the international market and US companies WERE customers right up to the war. Same with present Iranian oil, it is flowing INTO the international marketplace.

I think Greeenspan did not want to introduce another element to the mix: the issue of oil as priced in US dollars and that relationship to the dollar as "the" international reserve currency.

My thought is that an attack on Iran would simply make this whole matter much more aggravated and worse and could HURT the dollar's standing rather than help it. At what point does America's twin deficit situation (and suicidal foreign policy) finally cause a real collapse of confidence? Yes, the markets are currently driven by magical thinking just as the flatheads are but....a reckoning can come.

The hard issues at the moment seem to me to be: hydrocarbons, the international monetary regime and its architecture, and the state of international financial markets.

How does a US war against Iran impact on these and our economic future and national security? Where is a national advantage for a war against Iran?

I recall my parents talking about the Great Depression and it was tough for a lot of folks...magical thinking is not going avert the potential for a new one.

Perhaps certain circles hope such a situation would help dissolve the United States into some "North American Union" scheme...
for which see,


Col. Lang, Thank you for posting Galbraith's Tour de Force of where we are, and how we got there.

We are going to attack Iran, and soon. The reason being that while it is not in America's interests, it certainly is in Israel's interests to have America in the same boat as it were, basking in the enmity of the entire Islamic world, just like little Israel.

Israel's interests are definitely NOT the promotion of democracy and free secular prosperous Islamic nations, because that will lessen Israel's political, economic and military clout in the region.

Nope, Israel wants to be surrounded by failed Islamic states, as ongoing proof that "Ayrabs" are corrupt, brutal, thuggish untermenschen, incapable of engaging with the West unless with an AK 47. This is the vision promoted by AIPAC and the AEI.

It is also the reason for the ferocity of their attack on Lebanon - it was about infrastructure smashing to prevent Lebanon being seen as a relatively stable and positively desirable western tourist destination - and of course with western engagement would come understanding.

This is the only point Galbraith just doesn't get. The policy decisions made by the Deciderer and his Administration weren't mere "mistakes" they were actions actively foisted on it by the Israeli lobby in full knowledge of the chaos they would cause.

If you want proof of this, simply try and find out who gave instructions for the disbanding of the Iraqi Army and the de-Baathification of the civil service? While your at it, see if you can find out who ordered the Airforce to target Iraqi water, power and sewerage infrastructure as well? I wish you luck.

The Israeli lobby, of which the traitorous Wurmser is a part, have ordered an attack on Iran, and Bush, and Congress, are powerless to resist. State will try, they have been trying to hold back the Israeli lobby for at least twenty years, but I don't think they will prevail.

Bush will attack Iran, and very soon. Logic doesn't come into it at all, you are watching a woodenheaded President engage in suicidal statecraft, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop him. The result will quite likely be the collapse of the American economy as well as military defeat.

Babak Makkinejad


You wrote: "I've long heard that Iran has one of the most pro-US populations in the Middle East".

They were never pro-US as such but they liked & admired America. Even the Iranian government funded students for studying in the US universities (“Gotta learn from the Great Satan!”) Certainly for many young people their dream was to visit US. And Iran being an insular country of (mostly) Shia Muslims (run for & by Shia Muslims) they could not care less about the beef between Sunni Muslim extremists and the United States.

On the other hand, that sentiment is long past, in my opinion. I think those of the Iranian people who would think about such things are no longer positively disposed towards the United States and, in fact, they expect an un-wanted war with US.

The leadership of Iran, in my opinion, has concluded that the differences between Iran and US cannot be abridged. Their aim is now to limit the cost to Iran.


Even Barry "Stay the Course" McCaffrey is right. "The United States is now at a crossroads. We are in a position of strategic peril."

This is due to a War of attrition to control the Middle East resources and protect Israel. But, none of these strategic goals has ever been marketed or sold to Americans. The crisis is a war being fought on the cheap by a cabal that can't tell the truth. No wonder 62% of Americans say it was a mistake sending troops to Iraq.

Iran's problem is that it does not recognize America's and Israel's hegemony. Led by a school yard bully and a cheerleader, the American bombing of Iran looms ahead. Yet, even if rational heads prevail, propaganda cannot hide energy inflation, dollar devaluation, melting ice cap, rampart inequality, and the never ending wars of occupation in the Middle East. The USA is positioned on the tip of strategic dilemma and is it going to have to decide to deal with the threat by eternal death and destruction or alternatively by withdrawal, accommodation and containment.

Even given our quixotic tilting at windmills, we cannot be the only ones to recognize the crisis; though Democrats dare not give it a name.

Cold War Zoomie

Thse last 6 years is a threat to my sanity.

Stop the ride, I want to get off.


PL: Are you sure?

"Cruise missiles already pose a threat to US bases. One recent analysis determined that less than a dozen cruise missiles equipped with submunition warheads could severely damage or destroy almost an entire fighter wing parked in the open.

ASCMs similarly threaten US
ships, particularly in chokepoints and littoral waters.

Iran could use a combination of ASCMs, LACMs, and ballistic
missiles to deny the United States access to the region in a future conflict..."

Or they could be used against other targets, perhaps against the Gulf's oil loading facilities, which by definition have to be choke points.


Clifford says:

"What I do not grasp -- and would welcome insights -- is the advantage the US gains from such a national strategy [global hegemony]...

"Iraqi oil, such as it was under UN conditions, was flowing TO the international market and US companies WERE customers right up to the war. Same with present Iranian oil, it is flowing INTO the international marketplace."

Gulf oil was described by US official in 1945 as "a stupendous source of strategic power". Its about *control*, not access; its about the strategic veto.

Go back to the Second World War - the Cold War and the war against the Third World are really just a continuation of WW11. World War Two was to a large extent about control of resources. The Japs tried to seize the Dutch East Indies for oil to power the ships, vehicles, and planes of their empire (East Asian hegemony.) To fail in this is certain defeat. Planes that cant take off; ships that can sail out but no fuel to return.

Likewise Hitler tried to control the oil of the Caucuasus for the same reason, with the same result.

If the US attains complete regional hegemony in the Gulf it will control the oil. This gives it an effective veto over the industrialised economies (Europe, Asia). It will be another American century.

If the US is defeated, the strategic consequences are immense. As big as Hitler's defeat or the Japs (albeit in slower motion). America will be reduced to 'just another nation' while some coalition of Russia, Iran, India, China and perhaps Europe exert hegemonic influence.

The stakes are immense and this is why there can be no withdrawal. Defeat is simply unthinkable. Attacking Iran is really a desperate maneouvre, like Hitler striking south to Stalingrad and Chechnya, but my god, what choice do we have? We *must* succeed.

David W

In the build-up to the Iraq war, my standard commentary was that A.) we would waste billions of dollars, thousands of American lives and deplete our military capabilities without coming close to achieving the mission's goals, stated or otherwise, and B.) it was playing right into Bin Laden's strategy

Bin Laden must really be laughing his ass off now, at the thought of the US attacking Iran. Give the man his due--he seemingly estimated that arrogance, greed and hidden loyalties would goad the US into the tar pit. Attacking Iran will just sink the US in deeper.


The current environment reminds me a bit about the 70s .

Massive deficit spending on a foreign occupation without taxes to pay for it. Enormous financial leverage in the system. Prices for food and gas rising. Health care costs escalating at enormous rates. The dollar in retreat. And the Dick&George show want a real ME conflagration to light up their world.

Is Hillary being set up to be the next Carter?

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