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20 February 2008

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Harper

I am not surprised at Gerecht's comments. I recall an AEI event, shortly after the invasion of Iraq, where he was presented as the Institute's resident expert on Shi'ite Islam. He delivered a bizarre speech about how democracy would be brought to Iraq and to the region as a whole by Shi'ites, whose theology is inherently democratic. He was manic about the idea that the U.S. would turn over the keys to Iraq to the Shi'ite majority and that this would win the hearts and minds of all Iraqis, and send shudders down the collective spine of the Sunni tyrannies that co-occupied the Persian Gulf with the democracy-loving Shi'ites. Pretty shallow stuff, but at the time AEI was a pretty powerful conduit of "expertise" (sic) to the White House, especially the VP office. I recall that the front row center seat at the Gerecht presentation was occupied by Harold Rhode, a top Pentagon "Islamic" expert for Wolfowitz, was eating the whole thing up.

Charles I

"As he says, a real negotiation will, at the very least, expose the mullahs's as merely tactical in their statements concerning their willingness to discuss serious issues seriously."

Gee. Then the mullah's would be exposed as cut from the same cloth as - gasp - the Israeli and American governments.

taters

Could not the same logic be applied to Israel to accept a hudna with Hamas?

Yes, Col. Lang, Mr. Gerecht should watch himself.

zanzibar

Pat

Would you weigh in on these seemingly related "circumstances"?

- the assasination of Imad Mugnieh in Syria by Mossad
- al Faisal the Saudi foreign minister meets quietly with Bush and Putin and apparently was in Berlin & Paris over a 2 day period of short discussions
- Hizballah pledges retaliation for Mugneih's killing
- Israel activates Patriots and IDF elite units.

Has the train left the station for the next Lebanon/Syria war? Do the neocons here and in Israel with their Saudi friends get their last hurrah??

W. Patrick Lang

Zanzibar

It appears to me that the Israelis have convinced themselves that '06 was a fluke and are pushing for a chance to prove it. pl

Curious

He can't even predict the outcome of US politics and he is babbling about inside Iran leadership structure? come on ...

a) McCain is gone. NYTimes report he is having an affair with a lobbyist. Cheating on wife second wife after cheating on first one. (That will go wild with family value crowd.)

b) Hillary loses the primary, short of Obama having scandal or major gaffe, hillary won't be able to win 65% margin she needs in Texas and Ohio to stay even. Anecdotal report from inside campaign seems to indicate she is far less organized compared to Obama campaign.

So we have Obama as president now. Somebody who AIPAC/AEI/JINSA has no deep relationship whatsoever, unlike Hillary or GOP candidate.

Relationships between DC think-tank and policy makers are about to change a great deal. The general public is not in the mood for them. Nevermind people from AEI. Pro-Israel hawks are out. They better have another major conference in Israel to do what next. Even "going it alone" is not viable now. They have no operative inside to make sure somebody is going to back Israel in case they botch their operation. (eg. US will fight along in war against Iran)

war of ideas? please ... as if. The neocon losts their war on idea. Times up.

David W

I highly doubt that Mr. Gerecht is any more interested in diplomacy than the rest of his neocon fellow travelers--what I read here is a Trojan Horse in the New York Times, laying out the dastardly reasons why Iran is the latest implacable foe...

Is it just me, or is this redolent of the runup on Iraq?

Gerecht is just putting new lipstick on the same old pig in a poke that these guys have been trying to sell.

It seems like these guys are having a hard time trying to create their next 'nuclear madman,' and are now going at it by committee; Is it the mad mullahs, or is it Syria? Current credible analysis says it is neither.

Nor do the wingnuts ever provide an answer as to why MAD is suddenly inoperable in this situation--instead, we are supposed to take on faith (again), that 'Madman X' hates the US and Israel soooo much that they are willing to toast their own country, and throw their own ruling order in the crapper in order to make a strike.

Does this sound like any dictator/despot/strongman in history?

fnord

Sir, are you aware that your name is slandered over at national review.com? (http://www.nationalreview.com/rubin/rubin200405190844.asp)

Rubin writes: "Former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Patrick Lang, for example, has argued that Likud controls America. He told associates that Undersecretary of Policy Douglas Feith sought to make the Middle East safe for Jews by a process of "de-Arabization." Several journalists have relied on Lang as a source as did television networks that used him as an analyst. Most did not mention that, in the run-up to the war in Iraq, Lang was a registered agent of a foreign government. "

The link is dead for evidence about you being a foreign agent, though. Surely, this is slander?

David Habakkuk

The continuing problem is the assumption of omnipotence in the 'Borgian collective'.

As Colonel Lang and Larry Johnson brought out in their 'Contemplating the Ifs' article in The National Interest two years ago, there is a devil and the deep blue sea element about this: an Iranian nuclear capability is an unlovely prospect, but the risks of military action are massive. When Colonel Sam Gardiner war-gamed the situation for the Atlantic Monthly back in 2004, his message to policymakers was even more pessimistic: 'You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. And you have to make diplomacy work.'

Whether the military elements of the equation have changed since then I am not competent to judge. The vulnerability of the global economic system, one of the major problems with the military option, has patently got much worse. The latest column by the principal economics columnist of the Financial Times, Martin Wolf, is headed 'America's economy risks mother of all meltdowns.'

So in terms of its ability to back up its negotiating position with threats that can be implemented at acceptable risk, the United States is not in a very strong position.

The reluctance to confront the limits of power is again visible in Gerecht's discussion of sanctions. Having explained that for 'selfish and malevolent reasons', China and Russia will not back tough sanctions -- along with the 'trade-obsessed Germans and the increasingly self-absorbed, American-leery British' -- he goes on to say 'we must find a way to restore the resolve of all those parties and hit Iran with a tsunami of sanctions'.

But China and Russia have not been willing to back tough sanctions because they have not seen it as in their interest to do so -- whining about 'selfish and malevolent reasons' gets you nowhere. The relevant questions have been 1. whether this reluctance is essentially immutable, 2. if it is not, what actions by the U.S. would be required to change the positions of these countries, 3. whether the costs of such actions are worth the potential gains. Among the obvious issues, in relation to Russia, are recognition of Kosovan independence, expansion of NATO to include the Ukraine and Georgia, and the stationing of ABM systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. When however these issues are discussed, there in general appears to be minimal recognition of the relationship to U.S. policy in dealing with Iran.

JM

Could name all of the neocon-artists in the photo save one: third row, middle.

Who is it?

W. Patrick Lang

fnord

Rubin, the National Review, the New York Sun and a couple of other neocon outlets were contacted by my lawyer about this falsehood and the publications withdrew their statements.

I have never been a registered or unregistered agent of any foreign government or state. (See the end of my CV for a discussion). Rubin (the Caliban of the neocon group) is the kind of pathetic loser who continues to state faslehoods even when he knows they are untrue. In other words, he is a liar. pl

W. Patrick Lang

Someone asked a while back why Webb had voted for renewal of the national surveilance act.

I don't know. Perhaps he is more gullible than I had thought. pl

fnord

Well, sir, it stil stands on net, so you might want to follow that.

fnord

D habakuk: The one issue I have really missed is the possibility to draw China into the GWOT-spiel. How would one go about to make China a player internationally? As witnessed a month ago, they have 4 hundred thousand military personel deployable at any time...

Cold War Zoomie

For selfish and malevolent reasons,...

For us, "selfish...reasons" is translated to "national interest." It sounds better that way.

They [Iranians] know they are in the final nuclear stretch:...

Are they really this close to being a nuclear power? (Whatever a final stretch is)

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton may well prefer to see the clerical regime go nuclear than strike it preventively.

Weasel words.

I would think that talking directly with Iran would give them one of the things they really want - to be viewed as a regional power. Emotionally, this is not appealing. Intellectually, what would it hurt if we let them put on their big boy pants and get them to make compromises in our favor?

Cold War Zoomie

The truly demented among you will begin to suspect you of MODERATION.

Feeding the cats sometimes leads to serious thoughts...

Why would any diplomatic strategy need to be categorized as moderate or radical, or whatever? Either it is a strategy that will succeed, or it is a strategy that will fail, or most likely fall somewhere between.

This may be an immature thought. For some reason, it seems important to me. I don't know why.

Maybe it relates to how people want to identify themselves moreso than actually accomplishing goals. Being a "radical hawk" appeals to some people more than being a "moderate pragmatist."

Here endeth chewing the fat.

jedermann

What is needed now is an honest, clear-eyed assessment of Iran and its highly complex leadership situation. No assessment is completely free of bias or ignorance, but at least a good-faith effort from competent analysts and regional experts working with the most reliable information would be a good start. Assuming that everyone else in the Great Game is operating from assessments that are flawed or biased by their own interests as ours seems to be, the advantage to us of an unclouded view would seem obvious. This is a country of huge potential and importance that is being run by people whose culture and purposes, it would appear, are not adequately comprehended by our foreign policy establishment. The Iranian leadership is complicated, perhaps duplicitous, and no-doubt difficult in negotiation. They will likely be misunderstood and misapprehended by us until we remove the filters of our own preoccupations in taking their measure. In the ongoing discussion, regarding them as dangerous or not, trustworthy or not should not be a function of our own affection for or animus toward the NeoCon contingent who have so dominated what passes for thinking in this administration. There is a real Iran out there if only we can see it.

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