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04 November 2010


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William R. Cumming

PL! Enjoyed the lecture. Informative as always with your writing and speaking and seemed to break some new ground. Maybe not!


I watched the video.
Your scenario for Iran-Israel-Pakistan reminds me of the start of WW-I.
This is infinitely worse though.
BTW, you seemed to lower the average age in the room...and raised the average weight.

Norbert M. Salamon


Thank you for a very incisive coverage of Islam as a religion, and the misconception of the USA power elite of the above nature, also as it effects the politics of variousa Arab/Persian nations .
I also appreciated your analytic remarks re I/P, Pakistan, Afganistan, Lebanon and Iran.

Patrick Lang


"...you seemed to lower the average age in the room...and raised the average weight"

Since you brought it up, you are right on both counts. there are many intelligent well informed retired people in Charlottesville. I am perhaps over medicated for a number of ailments and cannot get my weight down. p


Didn't mean to cut...re. the
weight remark.
At least your weight has a reason.
Mine is just bad diet.
I thought, fleetingly, about retiring to the Charlottesville area.
Drop dead beautiful country.
Heading down that way in 2 weeks.
That's why I wanted to know the location of that great photo.

Sidney O. Smith III

Great lecture. Leave it to Likud Zionism to bridge the Sunni -Shia divide and do so worldwide.

Was hoping Prof. Gary Gallagher would stroll over from the history department to the Miller Center to listen to the lecture and then draw comparisons between then and now. All in the spirit of Faulkner’s observation that, “The past is never dead; it’s not even past”.


Thank you very much for that lecture Pat.

A few questions:

a. What is, in your opinion, more likely: That Iran will build a physical nuke or that Iran will stop its program when it has achieved the theoretical bomb "Japan option"?

b. Is the Israeli policymaker "fear" of a Iranian bomb more an attempt to divert the global public views from its colonization of the West bank or is it more real fear?

c. If Saleh has such a good secret service as you claim how likely is it that the two recently found bombs were send by that same secret service to press for more money from the U.S. budget?

d. You said that the Middle Eastern way of negotiation is to fight while negotiating.

How is this "Middle Eastern way" different form what the US did for four+ years in Vietnam, fighting while negotiating, and is currently doing in Afghanistan?

Patrick Lang


I think that they will eventually build a physical device, not necessarily a bomb, and test it as India did in order to establish their status.

The Yemenis may have done that. it would be typical of them.

No. your dislike of the
US has blinded you. In VN we really believed that we were doing the Lord's work. We would have stopped fighting any time that the North Vietnamese had encouraged us to do so. You, of course, will never believe that. Middle Easterners follow this tactic as a normal negotiation strategy.

R Whitman

Those people in the audience all looked young to me.


What about b's second question:
b. Is the Israeli policymaker "fear" of a Iranian bomb more an attempt to divert the global public views from its colonization of the West bank or is it more real fear?

My two cents on the question is that Israeli leaders are using it as an attempt to divert attention from the hard subjects. I don't really think they fear Iran, bomb or no bomb.

It is probably handy at home to keep the fear level high, too.


Good deal....

By the way, interesting book to get. "The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb"..


PS: Thanks Colonel! I am kind of partial to Alexandria since I was born there..



Thanks for posting this (and for doing it, of course...). I just watched the entire lecture and was not surprised by your effective combination of balanced realism and frank criticism without enmity... and I dearly wish that the darkness in your conclusions were not so foreboding for all the parties to the tragedy...

If I may, I have a slightly different opinion on the first three questions offered by "b":

a. For the foreseeable future, the Iranians will simply copy Israel by promising to "not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the region", in part because they would not be forced to formally leave the NPT and in part because it puts Israel in a tightening logical and diplomatic bind over its own unacknowledged capabilities. What utility would Iran have in openly claiming an operational nuclear 'capability'?...

... and for what it's worth, the core conundrum that Israel faces regarding its strategic posture is that it "went nuclear" without considering the long term implications... just like the expansion of settlements into the West Bank... or the cynical (or perhaps sincere?) support of the religious prototypes of Hamas versus the secular Fatah.

b. Israel's basic strategic goal, even beyond the settlement policy, has long been to avoid that one of it's neighbors might challenge it's nuclear monopoly in the region. There is no question that Israeli leaders and its citizenry have a visceral fear of a peer adversary on these terms, but they also 'enjoy' (if that's the term) an unreasonable comfort in their qualitative advantage and don't want to lose it...

... but your points about Pakistan are more than pertinent. I have never understood why they don't play a major role in Israel's public calculus vis a vis Iran. Does Israel have a "special" relationship with India that is a bigger backstop than that with the US and Europe?

c. Regarding Yemen: if I had been at your talk, I would have asked you about a report that I heard on the BBC or NPR this week while driving wherein the reporter told of the deal made with Saleh following the Cole attack and 9/11 whereby he apparently nearly eliminated AQAP (in Yemen) only to be rebuked by the Bush Admin a few years later when they criticized him publicly for not being sufficiently democratic in the spirit of the "New" Middle East...

... to which I would have asked you whether this was accurate and whether (and how) we can reestablish (and maintain) these relatively positive relationships without expecting too much from the main interlocutors?

I don't know if there is much of a distinction in my comments here, Pat, so I think I'll just close by thanking you again...

Patrick Lang


"how) we can reestablish (and maintain) these relatively positive relationships without expecting too much from the main interlocutors"

We can't. That is one of the main messages of my talk. pl


"We can't."

I know and got the message... but was it always the case? Was the anti-AQAP cooperation after 9/11 (or was it after the Cole?) just an illusion?

If so, then why make the effort in the first place? (though I know that short term priorities sometimes might necessitate temporary compromises with long term goals and principles).

If not, could it have been cultivated so as to endure and develop? Would it have made any difference in the long run if Saleh had returned home with a sense of support from the Bush WH rather than the sting of embarrassment?

Patrick Lang


Why? Because Bush and his idiots were fools who knew nothing of the local situations.

I am tempted to stop. pl



Very informative presentation. Any chance of something similar in the Midwest?



Very interesting - and coincidentally the first time I've actually heard your voice (that I know of). Content and protestations otherwise aside, you actually _sound_ very chipper! You must be living well.

One question: given the content of your talk, what do you think is in the US's strategic interest to do in the region? On the spectrum of "get out completely" (ultraviolet) and "start conscription in the US and COIN the whole region" (infrared) - and that's a Pretty Big Range - what is the best thing the US could do to serve its own interests?

Patrick Lang


Benign neglect. pl



Fair enough. I'm assuming that without oil there isn't much reason to pay attention to the region at all. How do you think the oil price & availability modifies "benign neglect"? Given the large cost of intervention, should the US be looking at "alternative energy strategies" instead or does "benign neglect" also include a caveat that XYZ events mean that the US must heavily re-engage in the region?

I'm reminded of the famous line from Godfather III "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in. "

Patrick Lang


IMO. The price of oil is determined by market forces not by "peak oil" or manipulation of supply by oil producers. pl

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