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Meanwhile in Venezuela
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Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Missed the point on 02/28/2014 21:42:44 MST Print View

It is pointless Jerry. I did not bring up Keynes. I answered a question. Why can you not go back and read everything before you post again?
You accused me of derailing my own thread which was not true. It's like walking in a circle with you. Come to think of it, I don't recall you ever admitting a mistake, you just keep slipping away. I don't enjoy this kind of a game.
Glad you got out and had fun.

Edited by Kat_P on 02/28/2014 21:55:05 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Missed the point on 02/28/2014 22:24:01 MST Print View

I did go back and re-read.

And here, I'll do it again, you said "I don't like everything he stands for ( I am not a believer in Keynesian economics for one) but that does not mean I cannot appreciate some really good articles he writes and recommends"

Did it really not occur to you that someone might not comment on Keynesian economics? Especially after the previous several times someone has discounted Keynes and I objected?

Yeah, I'm kind of a know it all and don't admit I'm wrong. Maybe "beating a dead horse". But I'm more interested in Chavez or whether (or how would be a more reasonable question) the government should regulate the economy, or whatever. I don't really care who's "right or wrong".

I don't mean to piss anyone off.

When I was out looking for Mountain Lion tracks in the snow I thought about Kat's camera. I think wildlife is the best part of going into the wilderness. Once I snuck up on this bear and took some pictures and then later he walked up to within 30 feet of me and scared us both shitless. He ran away and I swore because I couldn't get a picture.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Really on 02/28/2014 22:43:22 MST Print View

One last futile attempt.
Jerry, it was Michael that brought up Keynes in his brief thread derailment. I addressed some of what Michael said and mentioned that I am not a fan of Keynes. You saw the name Keynes and jumped on it. Never mind that all I said is that I am not a fan, in response to Michael. It's clearly a trigger for you. Fine. The only part that is not fine is your blaming me for the derailment. There you are wrong. How you fail to see that is puzzling.
Derail away but do not blame others.
Bye.

Edited by Kat_P on 02/28/2014 23:13:10 MST.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Really on 02/28/2014 23:45:12 MST Print View

Lol. Oh well. I only mentioned Keynes since I know Kat wasn't on board with him and the guy she likes is. I just was curious why she was a fan since I thought I knew she disagreed with some of their stances.

That's it. She answered my question. I think it is pointless to go down this path again. There are no new data points.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Really on 03/01/2014 09:31:00 MST Print View

"Jerry, it was Michael that brought up Keynes in his brief thread derailment..."

Ahhh...

The only reason I "blamed" it on you was that it was your thread about Maduro. If two responders go on a tangent about Keynes, then it's not "fair" to the original poster.

But if the OP mentions Keynes, it's okay to then respond even if the thread drifts.

That's Jerry's morality for allowed thread drift.

Actually, I don't really mind threads that drift, but it bothers some people so I try to behave.

Sorry, I didn't mean to bother you Kat. I apologize. I like to spread peace and respect around the world and if enough of us do so, maybe the world will be better.

And I'm digging your cat pictures, amazing...

And all the links you've posted about the NSA - very interesting - this could be way worse than George Orwell ever imagined...

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Really on 03/01/2014 09:44:40 MST Print View

"I only mentioned Keynes since I know Kat wasn't on board with him and the guy she likes is..."

Ahhh...

So, Michael set off this bomb, made popcorn, and waited for the entertainment : )

I'm just curious what Michael's solution is. Obviously (?) doing nothing isn't good because prior to the 1930s there were a series of great depressions. What Bush and Obama have done, huge government deficit and huge increase in money supply, is supposed to fix the economy, yet it seems weak. Maybe the recession was deep so it takes a while to recover. Maybe there are other factors like our ridiculous trade deficit.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: ad hominems on 03/01/2014 11:04:33 MST Print View

>>> Yes, but shepherded along by us with advice and promises of financial aid, with a predictable reaction from the Russians, as you can see right now.

Again, I haven't been following the happenings in Ukraine, but... is financial aid a provocative act? Really, the EU has an interest in stable neighbors, if nothing else.

The truth is that the shift westward seems to have been a Ukrainian idea (which even you don't seem to be disputing) and the west was merely willing to help them out. And then the Russians went all apesh!t and cloak-and-dagger. Which is sort of par for the course, I agree.

I will also note that you again seem to want to excuse Russia's threats of military intervention in the internal affairs of another sovereign state. How about criticizing them? Isn't threatening to seize the Crimea a bit "aggressive"? (And before you try to go all two-wrongs-make-a-right on me I will acknowledge that the US is not guiltless of similar actions in the past.)

>>>And all of the rest of the ABM comments. I think we've both agreed that the whole ABM argument has been rendered moot by their MIRVed ICBM arsenal.

Granted. And I'll just reiterate that yes I think that we and the Russians are having a reasonable "conversation" regarding ABMs. That's sort of what I've been trying to say, at least. And we're getting close to an agreement of sorts on the issue. For instance, they don't have the Kuznetsov and a brigade of Naval Infantry off the coast of Poland...

>>> I have already indicated my opinion about why the Iranians want the bomb: To neutralize our(US/Israel) ability to blackmail them.

My point, which I may not have made well, is that you ascribe possibly secret and nefarious intent on the part of the US regarding the ABM plans, yet refuse to consider that Iran may have secret and nefarious intent with regards to its nuclear ambitions. To you the Iranian reason for wanting nukes is obvious and rational, and you don't seem to be able to conceive that they would misuse them, whereas "who knows for what real reason" the US wants ABMs. I maintain that the US wants ABMs for exactly the purpose that they have stated.

And when have the US or Israel blackmailed anyone with nukes? (Seriously- have we?) MAD doesn't count. The US did warn (and later admitted it was a bluff) Saddam that we would nuke him if he used chemical weapons, but I wouldn't call that blackmail. Israel doesn't even admit it has nukes, so it would be hard for them to blackmail anyone with them. Israel has a disturbing tendency to interfere militarily in nearby places like Lebanon, Gaza, etc, but Iran is further away and IIRC they have never acted against Iran without provocation. (I could be wrong- not really my area.) Yet Iran insists upon threatening their existence. Repeatedly and enthusiastically.

For that matter I'm trying to think of any war that Israel actually started. They did act preemptively in the Six-Day War but it's kind of hard to fault them when Egypt was mobilizing on their border with the Sinai, considering the situation at the time.

Don't get me wrong- Israel is not a warm and fuzzy nation. They are not nice guys. But if I compare them to their opponents I guess I'd take their side if forced to choose one. It's rather hard to sympathize with the Palestinians when they blow up school buses and launch missiles randomly into urban areas from Gaza. I mean, hell, they launched over 2,200 rockets in 2012! (Just imagine what we'd do if Mexico shelled Brownsville...) Sonofacrap! Kind of hard to claim that they are trying to do anything other than terrorize civilians.

>>> I don't think you have much to worry about in that regard, my friend. Iran is Shia'a and the terrorists are almost entirely Sunni, so it's a non starter.

*Cough-cough* Hamas? Hezbollah? The Riyadh compound bombings of 2003? They have a proven history of supporting terrorism. There is an entire Wikipedia page on the subject for crying out loud.

The Iranians understand the dictum that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

>>> Yours is military, and my, possibly skewed, perception of you is that you instinctively perceive many of the nations we discuss as adversaries.

This is a complex issue. I deny that I instinctively think of other nations as adversaries. But it's hard to deny that Iran is in fact an adversary at the moment. And I do think that he Russians are paranoid, nationalistic, and militant but not an outright adversary. I think of them more as annoying, frustrating, and potentially dangerous than as an overt adversary. North Korea is pretty much everyone's adversary, with the sole possible exception of China. What I do recognize is threat, which in military parlance has nothing to do with intent, merely capability. Thus even the UK is a "threat." Does that make sense?

And give me some credit- I certainly find the Russians, Iranians, etc. interesting. I just also happen to be in a demographic that places me at risk of stopping bullets issued from either of them when they get their hackles up so, yes, this colors my perspective. When you're a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail, it's true. That's why I'm not running US foreign policy... :)

But sort of by definition we only tend to argue over issues on which we disagree. So we both might suffer from sampling bias, there. We probably agree on more than one might otherwise think. I just like to make the point that, yes, although I can understand other nations motivations I am still capable of disapproving of their actions.

Speaking of which, I recently read an article in (of all things) Mother Jones written by one of those three hikers that Iran kidnapped. Remember our argument about that? About how "understandable" you found it that Iran would seize someone who trespassed across their border? Well, at least according to the kid they were on a ridge in Iraq when an armed Iranian border guard on the next ridge over directed them to approach him. Quite reasonably they elected to do as the nice gentleman with the automatic weapon had requested. Then they were detained because they had "crossed into Iran."

As I said then and as I maintain now, Iran likes to play games. How long did they keep those kids? And for what? A bargaining chip? A little poke in the eye to the west?

>>> That said, it is basically none of our business,

Most of that, yes. But if you really feel that it is literally none of the business of the rest of the world that they strangle children for the crime of being gay and stone women to death for all the usual asinine reasons, I pity you.

And when they threaten to close the Straits of Hormuz, that most certainly affects our interests. As much as I would prefer that we were not so dependent on middle eastern oil sources, that is not the reality.

>>>OK, US foreign policy. [etc]

Hallelujah, you have restored my faith in you. But I do notice that none of that is recent, as I had requested. :)

How about something post-Cold War?

>>> Yeah, but you've got to go up into the Caucasus to find the really good stuff, or the Punjab.

I will defer to your expertise. :)

>>> Except for the US 6th fleet cruising just outside their territorial boundary, armed to the teeth, special ops teams on the ground sniffing around, drones like the one they forced to land and then put on public display, massive sanctions that have made a shambles of their economy, threats of military action, and harmless little pranks like Stuxnet. Yeah, you're right, Dean, they're a bunch of belligerent, militant a$$holes.

Are we innocent? No. However, it is also farcical to blame it all on the United States:

How were they "provoked" to kidnap those kids, again? Or kidnap those British troops, whom they also falsely claimed were in their territory? (I give props to the Australians for not submitting to that crap and shooting back.) The Sixth Fleet is there for a reason- I have already mentioned Iran closing the Straits of Hormuz. So, a response to militant jackassery on the part of Iran. I'd want a source for special ops teams in Iran, sorry. Not that I would be surprised given our worries about Iranian nukes, but I'd need sources. We had that CIA guy get nabbed, no doubt, but everyone does espionage so that's a wash. The US says that the drone was on the Afghan side of the border when it was spoofed or malfunctioned. Who to believe? Again, would I be surprised if the US were checking out Iran? No. They may in fact have been doing exactly that from the Afghan side of the border. But it would definitely be stupid on our part to cross into Iran- their integrated air defense network is good enough to detect such a partially-stealthed aircraft. On the other hand meaconing an aircraft is an act of war, so if Iran did jam it in Afghan airspace (and they have already demonstrated their, um "creative interpretation" of their borders) then yes they were being militant belligerent @$$holes by definition. And I wouldn't doubt it for a second. Hopefully, given their record, you at least would entertain the possibility as well. Economic sanctions are not militant. Threats of action? Yes, generally in response to Iranian provocation, or at least refusal to consider valid requests such as listening to the IAEA re: enriching uranium. Related: Stuxnet?

Did we do that? ;)

Come on, the US has a very valid and rational reason to oppose Iran's development of nuclear weapons. To claim otherwise is disingenuous. If they were really just trying to develop nuclear power we would not be this opposed to the process. Why would we? Just to annoy them? The sanctions already do that. The real reason, if I may indulge in some humor, is that they are batsh!t crazy and might just decide to use a nuke if they had one. They are a true theocracy, and by definition religion isn't rational. One cannot predict what they might decide to do.

We made only token protests about India and Pakistan, etc. because we can trust them to be rational actors, and they only seem interested in weaponizing against one another- no ICBMs. Not so Iran.

We had tensions with the Soviets many, many times, yet we always managed to defuse them. It's a two-way street, though, and the Iranian government simply isn't interested, and have maintained the crisis for a generation beyond the end of the Cold War, now. Well, they are interested in removing the sanctions, but they aren't really interested in sharing the Earth in peace with either us or Israel. I mean, our Cold-War need to support the Shah is no more. The Iranian Revolution is a fait accompli. So at this point we really don't intrinsically care much about how Iran is run. If they'd simply stop threatening us we would remove the sanctions completely and happily co-exist with them.

So, I guess that all I'm saying is that Iran is maintaining the crisis, not us. Which makes sense- the Iranian government has an interest in maintaining the crisis. It lets them point at the US and blame us for everything that goes wrong in their country. They have a boogeyman on which to direct the ire of their people. It keeps them in power. There is a nascent movement among Iran's youth for some change, and this terrifies them.

>>> We refused to issue a formal apology.

We didn't apologize to Iran with whom, you are correct, we are engaged in a mini-Cold-War. We apologized to the victims' families, and paid restitution.

>>> But it doesn't surprise me that they accused us of doing it intentionally.

It doesn't surprise me, either. :) They're still wrong. Or, more likely, still just trying to maintain their ability to use the US as a boogeyman.

>>> While we're on the subject of the US military, let me make it clear that I have a lot of respect for you, both as an institution and as people, at least from the military personnel I have known personally.

And I respect "pinko com-symps." :)

Well, you know what I mean. Someone has to act as the conscience of the United States. And if I could only keep one thing from the Bill of Rights it would probably be Freedom of the Press.

>>> My criticism is directed at those who send you in harm's way for the wrong reasons.

Don't get me started, I might end up facing UCMJ action...

As I've said before, I think that some of my opinions would surprise the hell out of you. I tend to be critical of a lot of prominent general officers, too.

Eisenhower was right.

Down with Citizens United!

>>>The ABM problem is secondary, as far as I'm concerned to our actions in the countries on their border.

Then why keep harping about ABMs? :)

But honestly, I don't think that ABMs are much of an issue between us and Russia, as it seems you are now acknowledging. They are annoyed that places like Ukraine and Georgia would dare leave their sphere, though. I agree with you on that. They are still a de facto hegemony, and would like to remain such.

>>> Our aggressive actions on their border provoked an appropriate response.

I admit that I still struggle with the concept that responding to overtures of fellowship from sovereign states like Ukraine or Georgia would be "aggressive." Does that mean that you would say thet we were justified in invading Cuba? :)

Part of this is just that I don't really think of Russia as an imminent threat. Annoyingly nationalistic and militant, yes, but without the ideological motivation of the Soviet era they are unlikely to just decide on a whim to launch their ICBMs some day. So to a certain degree, yes, I wonder why they don't realize the same about us. Why should they care if Ukraine wants to join the EU? Really? Other than that they still consider Ukraine to be somehow "theirs"? Yes, I know their history and I know that they are scarred by it. But their Greatest Generation is dying off just as ours is. There should be no more institutional memory, there. The idea of an EU invasion of Russia is ludicrous. So, yes, I wish that they could see that. Hell, I wish they would join the EU! Then we could join with Canada and Mexico in the NAU, do away with the dollar, replace it with the Amero, and turn our military over to the UN!

Sorry. I shouldn't taunt the Tea Party wing nuts, even in jest. ;)

OTOH we left Iraq when asked. It's looking like we're likely to leave Afghanistan when asked. Unfortunately I can't think of good recent examples closer to our shores. There was as I hinted Cuba, about which I admit that we grew one eyebrow, but that was the Cold-War so I don't feel it's really the same. Can you think of any similar recent (i.e. post-Cold War) examples where the US acted as Russia is acting over Ukraine? I'm drawing a blank.

Edited by acrosome on 03/01/2014 12:27:45 MST.

Matthew Perry
(bigfoot2) - F

Locale: Oregon
Meanwhile in Venezuela on 03/01/2014 13:04:49 MST Print View

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_wKhXurFyI

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
A Venezuela - Dr. Phil nexus on 03/01/2014 14:54:13 MST Print View

[Keynes] vs … doing nothing isn't good because prior to the 1930s there were a series of great depressions. What Bush and Obama have done, huge government deficit and huge increase in money supply, is supposed to fix the economy, yet it seems weak. Maybe the recession was deep so it takes a while to recover. Maybe there are other factors like our ridiculous trade deficit.

Not Venezuela but oh well. I'm not sure it really matters anymore (Keynesians, monetarists, etc..). A large US mutual fund company (starts with a "V") did a study released in Dec 2013* showing that 88% of stocks owned by "the Boomers" are owned by their top 1%. Then there were some derivative articles showing these shares will not be sold, .. rather passed onto to their heirs. Another derivative chart showed that 1% of the highest earners bought even more U.S. stocks during late 2008 and 2009, while the media-entertainment complex told everyone to sell everything to buy 15 guns and 3 years of rice. Now before anyone starts talking about geopolitical-economic philosophy, they should look at the US stock market from Jan 2009 to present and ask how that philosophy worked out for them? (to paraphrase "Dr. Phil" - the dominant philosopher of our time).

I think it's safe to assume the wealthy will use their influence to prop up the financial markets (i.e their stocks and bonds for Jr.) and their own companies by all means possible (monetary policies, Keynesian policies, globalization, automation, whatever...) while their paid minions spout philosophy. Unless many paper assets become worthless like in Venezuela …. but in the US, the Fed will just raise interest rates. Re: Democrat Jimmy Carter was forced to hire staunch Republican Paul Volcker to fight the inflation started by Johnson and Nixon.



*Their own calculations using a 2010 Consumer Survey of Finances

ed: source, br

Edited by hknewman on 03/01/2014 23:16:34 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: ad hominems on 03/01/2014 15:11:42 MST Print View

"Again, I haven't been following the happenings in Ukraine, but... is financial aid a provocative act? Really, the EU has an interest in stable neighbors, if nothing else."

Even financial aid would be provocative given the circumstances and our history of trying to turn the states that formed Russia's buffer zone into our allies, but it doesn't stop there. I am supplying a link to an intercepted conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, in which they are discussing their choices for various positions in the pro Western government in waiting. In a reference to the European Union's understandable reluctance to push Russia too far, she says f%$$%^k the European Union. It would be worth your while to read this one. Apparently the Russians intercepted it and put it out on twitter where it has proved to be a major embarrassment to the US. In any case, it reveals just how involved we are in egging on the Ukrainian uprising.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26079957

"The truth is that the shift westward seems to have been a Ukrainian idea (which even you don't seem to be disputing) and the west was merely willing to help them out. And then the Russians went all apesh!t and cloak-and-dagger. Which is sort of par for the course, I agree."

I just wish I could get you to agree that the Russians have vital interests in the area, both historically and strategically.

"I will also note that you again seem to want to excuse Russia's threats of military intervention in the internal affairs of another sovereign state. How about criticizing them? Isn't threatening to seize the Crimea a bit "aggressive"? (And before you try to go all two-wrongs-make-a-right on me I will acknowledge that the US is not guiltless of similar actions in the past.)"

It is not a matter of criticizing them on moral grounds but, rather, recognizing the facts on the ground, the history, and the thinking of the Russian government, because that is what will determine their course of action. As you are no doubt aware, it is no longer a Russian threat of invasion. They have just put the 'real' back in realpolitik, and we are powerless to do a d@mn thing about it. Something to do with the correlation of forces being in Russia's favor, as the Joint Chiefs probably would have told the fools behind our policy making, had they been consulted. And, as I said previously, there is a world of difference between aggression undertaken to neutralize a perceived threat on a state's borders and aggression perpetrated by another state without a legitimate strategic interest in the situation on those borders. This a situation tragically analogous to what we did in Hungary(1956), Czechoslovakia(1967), Kurds in the 70's, Shia'a in southern Iraq(1991), and may well end up with a similar outcome.

"My point, which I may not have made well, is that you ascribe possibly secret and nefarious intent on the part of the US regarding the ABM plans, yet refuse to consider that Iran may have secret and nefarious intent with regards to its nuclear ambitions. To you the Iranian reason for wanting nukes is obvious and rational, and you don't seem to be able to conceive that they would misuse them, whereas "who knows for what real reason" the US wants ABMs. I maintain that the US wants ABMs for exactly the purpose that they have stated."

I guess I didn't express myself clearly enough. I don't ascribe nefarious intentions to the US re ABM's in Eastern Europe, because I'm not sure what our intentions are. I am quite certain, however, that the Russians do ascribe such intentions to us. As for Iran, they may harbor all sorts of nefarious intentions toward us, almost certainly do in fact, nor do I doubt that they might well use nukes if they thought they could get away with it, just like Bush II was contemplating using them against Iran to take out their nuclear facilities. However, proceeding from the premise that they are, in fact, rational actors, as they have so far proven to be, the prospect of certain annihilation following their use makes that likelihood about as remote as it can be.

"And when have the US or Israel blackmailed anyone with nukes? (Seriously- have we?) MAD doesn't count. The US did warn (and later admitted it was a bluff) Saddam that we would nuke him if he used chemical weapons, but I wouldn't call that blackmail. Israel doesn't even admit it has nukes, so it would be hard for them to blackmail anyone with them. Israel has a disturbing tendency to interfere militarily in nearby places like Lebanon, Gaza, etc, but Iran is further away and IIRC they have never acted against Iran without provocation. (I could be wrong- not really my area.) Yet Iran insists upon threatening their existence. Repeatedly and enthusiastically."

It is implicit in our being the only nation to ever have used them. JFK threatened the USSR during the Cuban Missile Crisis by putting our ICBM's and SAC on high alert, similarly during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Later admitting that the warning to Saddam was a bluff doesn't discount the initial blackmail. Everybody knows Israel has nukes, and during the Yom Kippur War, they opened their missile silos when they knew US and USSR satellites were overhead to indicate they had them and that they were operational and ready to launch if their situation grew much worse. Presumably the USSR passed that message on to the Arabs and calibrated its own actions accordingly. Israel threatens to strike Iran preemptively all the time, and was intimately involved in the development of Stuxnet. What is the Iranian provocation? To level the playing field. I could say a lot more about Israel, but that would be derailing my own posts to this this already derailed thread. Iran's threats to Israel are rhetorical, for reasons already stated having to do with their own existence.

"For that matter I'm trying to think of any war that Israel actually started. They did act preemptively in the Six-Day War but it's kind of hard to fault them when Egypt was mobilizing on their border with the Sinai, considering the situation at the time."

They started the war when they cleansed most of the Palestinian population from what became Israel. It actually began in the 1930's, but that is another story. What you call wars are only battles in a war that is far from over.

"Don't get me wrong- Israel is not a warm and fuzzy nation. They are not nice guys. But if I compare them to their opponents I guess I'd take their side if forced to choose one. It's rather hard to sympathize with the Palestinians when they blow up school buses and launch missiles randomly into urban areas from Gaza. I mean, hell, they launched over 2,200 rockets in 2012! (Just imagine what we'd do if Mexico shelled Brownsville...) Sonofacrap! Kind of hard to claim that they are trying to do anything other than terrorize civilians."

Might I suggest "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" by Ilan Pappe(a noted Israeli historian) and "My Promised Land" by Ari Shavit(a prominent columnist for Haaretz) for your bedtime reading? Seriously, Dean, they will provide some context for how the Palestinians behave. You will come away will a more balanced view of terrorizing civilian populations, for sure. It is how Israel came to be, simple as that.

"*Cough-cough* Hamas? Hezbollah? The Riyadh compound bombings of 2003? They have a proven history of supporting terrorism. There is an entire Wikipedia page on the subject for crying out loud."

See my comments immediately above. As for Riyadh, we are viewed by most of the Arab World as THE enabler of Israeli actions and main supporter of oppressive regimes that have left generations of Arab youth with no prospect for a decent future, and they have begun to react accordingly. Note our muted reaction to the military coup in Egypt and the brutal suppression of the majority Shia'a population of Bahrain by a Sunni minority, not to mention a corrupt medieval monarchy in Saudi Arabia and its oppressive policies. They are the major source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups, as well as the madrassahs in Pakistan, BTW. How ironic, huh?

"The Iranians understand the dictum that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend.""

As do we, and many others. It also explains their support for Hamas, a Sunni organization. Hizbullah, BTW, is an organization of co-religionists that was originally organized to protect the downtrodden Shia'a plurality in Lebanon. It only got involved in the resistance to Israel after the Lebanese Shia'a became collateral damage during Israel's campaigns against the Palestinians in Lebanon.

"This is a complex issue. I deny that I instinctively think of other nations as adversaries. But it's hard to deny that Iran is in fact an adversary at the moment. And I do think that he Russians are paranoid, nationalistic, and militant but not an outright adversary. I think of them more as annoying, frustrating, and potentially dangerous than as an overt adversary. North Korea is pretty much everyone's adversary, with the sole possible exception of China. What I do recognize is threat, which in military parlance has nothing to do with intent, merely capability. Thus even the UK is a "threat." Does that make sense?"

Perhaps not entirely, but certainly more than I do, as evidenced by the positions you take in our dialogue. This is not intended as an ad hominem criticism, BTW. I think it is part of military culture everywhere. It is part of the raison d'etre for militaries the world over. Some of it can't help but inform your thinking, or at least so it seems to me. In any case, it makes for a very interesting conversation, at least to me.

"And give me some credit- I certainly find the Russians, Iranians, etc. interesting. I just also happen to be in a demographic that places me at risk of stopping bullets issued from either of them when they get their hackles up so, yes, this colors my perspective. When you're a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail, it's true."

He!!, man I'll give you lots of credit. You're by far the most interesting person I engage with here, as evidenced by the length of our posts. And I do appreciate how your demographic colors your perceptions/thinking. It would mine, too, were I in your boots. That is why I said above that I think your thinking is colored by your military background and that I did not mean it in an ad hominem sense. I guess that mean I love you, too. :)

"But sort of by definition we only tend to argue over issues on which we disagree. So we both might suffer from sampling bias, there. We probably agree on more than one might otherwise think. I just like to make the point that, yes, although I can understand other nations motivations I am still capable of disapproving of their actions."

Hard to disagree here. I am also capable of disagreeing, even loathing, other nations' actions, including all the ones under discussion. But I was trained to separate my moral judgments from my analysis of international relations and what can realistically be accomplished in any given set of circumstances. To do that, one often has to hold their nose. This does not mean I discount morality in foreign policy formulation, but I realize that advancing moral goals must take account of realities on the ground and must often proceed at a more measured pace, if bloodshed on a vast scale is to be avoided. People's minds change slowly, a process that cannot be accelerated at the point of a gun. Even Mao recognized that basic reality.

This is particularly true when trying to impose one's beliefs on peoples of different confessional persuasion, as in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"That's why I'm not running US foreign policy... :)"

Precisely why our Founding Fathers, in their deep wisdom, put the military under civilian control, and further created 3 separate branches of government. Simply put, they realized that "The Lord ain't finished with us yet.


"peaking of which, I recently read an article in (of all things) Mother Jones written by one of those three hikers that Iran kidnapped. Remember our argument about that? About how "understandable" you found it that Iran would seize someone who trespassed across their border? Well, at least according to the kid they were on a ridge in Iraq when an armed Iranian border guard on the next ridge over directed them to approach him. Quite reasonably they elected to do as the nice gentleman with the automatic weapon had requested. Then they were detained because they had "crossed into Iran."

As I said then and as I maintain now, Iran likes to play games. How long did they keep those kids? And for what? A bargaining chip? A little poke in the eye to the west?"

I remember the conversation well, and I don't doubt for a moment that this was a case of Iranian nefariousness. However, given the contest, and the fact that those kids had been in the Middle East studying Arabic(in Damascus?) and presumably learning something about how things were playing out over there, my first thought is that were I in their shoes, I would have turned around and hightailed it back to the first friendly village. The kids were undoubtedly pawns in a much larger game, and the Iranians used them for whatever purposes they had in mind, very likely including the two you mentioned. They can be extremely cruel, as can the Arabs. And Israelis. It is a very rough neighborhood. I didn't approve of what the Iranians did to those kids, but as I said at the time, they were naïve to the point of being stupid. That said, I felt deeply sorry for them and disgusted with the Iranians, but at the same time at least partially understood why they did what they did. It's a rough neighborhood.

"Most of that, yes. But if you really feel that it is literally none of the business of the rest of the world that they strangle children for the crime of being gay and stone women to death for all the usual asinine reasons, I pity you."

It's not quite that simple, Dean. I loathe that kind of behavior as much as you, but at the same time realize that we can not change their beliefs and cultures at the point of a gun, and that trying will only result in violence on an even grander scale
and change nothing in the end. After we leave Afghanistan, do you really think they will not go back to abusing their women, stoning adulterers, sodomizing young boys, etc? And in the meantime, we will have pi$$ed away the lives of thousands of our young men and women, as you know far better than I, doomed hundreds of thousands more to lives of living hell from PTSD, and wasted vast amounts of our taxpayers money. For what? Better, I say, to put our resources to work right here at home to work on problems we can reasonably hope to solve, and leave those benighted medievals to sort their situation out on their own. Or not. Either way, the world will go on its merry way, and I suspect that even they will gradually come to the realization that they will be far better off cleaning up their act and joining the civilized world.

"And when they threaten to close the Straits of Hormuz, that most certainly affects our interests. As much as I would prefer that we were not so dependent on middle eastern oil sources, that is not the reality."

Can you tell me how closing the Straits of Hormuz in the event of a US or Israeli attack on their nuclear facilities would be unjustified? Or how it would be different in principle from what we are doing to them now with our sanctions? They will respond in a manner that they feel offers them the maximum possibility of inflicting damage on us and our interests.

>>>OK, US foreign policy. [etc]

"Hallelujah, you have restored my faith in you. But I do notice that none of that is recent, as I had requested. :)


How about something post-Cold War?"

China, as I said. Prior to the end of the Cold War, China was not high on our list of priorities, but it is now, and I think we have done reasonably well, although we will be severely tested if the island disputes boil over. On second thought, Nixon's opening to China also qualifies, as does our success for several decades in maintaining a relatively peaceful world. That last is no small achievement, and I should have thought of it sooner. I got too far down in the trees in responding to your multi faceted post and lost sight of the forest. My bad.

The reason I can't come up with more is that I think our foreign policy has been mostly a disaster since we got into Viet Nam. There is not much there to find comfort in, IMO. Discussing it in detail is far beyond the scope of this thread, so I will leave it at this for the time being: When ideologues and corporate interests seize control of foreign policy, the results are predictable. Q.E.D.

Prior to JFK, to whom I assign the blame for initially involving us in Viet Nam, foreign policy was made, for the most part, by the sober pragmatists who so successfully constructed the post war world order and contained Soviet expansionism.
Beginning with JFK that began to unravel and has now gotten to the point where our moral credibility has been compromised to the point where our primary foreign policy tools outside the Western community of nations are military force and economic sanctions/inducements, or the threat/promise thereof. In the process, we have seen our position of primacy in the world degraded, to be replaced by an emerging multipolar structure that promises to be at best challenging, and at worst extremely dangerous in years to come.

"I will defer to your expertise. :)"

I have to give credit to my wife for the Punjab part. The rest I got from reading National Geographic. ;0)

"Are we innocent? No. However, it is also farcical to blame it all on the United States:"

And I don't. I merely pointed out a major reason for their behavior.

"How were they "provoked" to kidnap those kids, again? Or kidnap those British troops, whom they also falsely claimed were in their territory? (I give props to the Australians for not submitting to that crap and shooting back.)"

See my comment immediately above. We threaten and harass them, they threaten and harass us. Tit for tat until it turns into rat a tat tat. Ya gotta keep up appearances in a rough neighborhood.

"The Sixth Fleet is there for a reason- I have already mentioned Iran closing the Straits of Hormuz."

And I responded with the conditions under which they would attempt to do that. Notice that they haven't tried to do so in response to sanctions that verge on acts of war, which both proves that they would only do so as a last resort because of likely consequences, and that they are therefore eminently rational in their calculations.

"So, a response to militant jackassery on the part of Iran. I'd want a source for special ops teams in Iran, sorry. Not that I would be surprised given our worries about Iranian nukes, but I'd need sources."

It isn't militant jackassery that has resulted in special ops units being infiltrated into Iran; it's the nuclear facilities that we're scoping out. As for sources, if you go back thru our previous conversation about Iran, I gave you a link to a New York Times article where we admitted it. Sorry, I'm not going back to dredge it up now.

"We had that CIA guy get nabbed, no doubt, but everyone does espionage so that's a wash."

That's a side show, standard espionage. He got caught, end of story.

"The US says that the drone was on the Afghan side of the border when it was spoofed or malfunctioned. Who to believe? Again, would I be surprised if the US were checking out Iran? No. They may in fact have been doing exactly that from the Afghan side of the border. But it would definitely be stupid on our part to cross into Iran- their integrated air defense network is good enough to detect such a partially-stealthed aircraft. On the other hand meaconing an aircraft is an act of war, so if Iran did jam it in Afghan airspace (and they have already demonstrated their, um "creative interpretation" of their borders) then yes they were being militant belligerent @$$holes by definition. And I wouldn't doubt it for a second. Hopefully, given their record, you at least would entertain the possibility as well. Economic sanctions are not militant. Threats of action? Yes, generally in response to Iranian provocation, or at least refusal to consider valid requests such as listening to the IAEA re: enriching uranium. Related: Stuxnet?"


I'd believe the side that ended up with the drone. ;0) As for being stupid, we've been known to do stupid on more than one occasion. I doubt that the drone in question was the first we had sent in their direction, so I would not blame them in the slightest if the became a little, uh, proactive after a while. If they did take control of it in Afghan airspace, it seems we would have intercepted, and recorded, their command signals. I mean, we pick up and record just about everything else, don't we? If so, where is the proof that they did so? Which is another way of saying, yes, I would certainly entertain the idea.
As for sanctions, I'm afraid we'll just have to disagree here. If they threaten a nation's economy and government, that government would be justified in considering them to be an act of war. As far as I can tell, they are within their rights to enrich uranium. As for inspections, do we submit to inspections? Do the Russians?
And why are we so exercised about Iran, when Israel, Pakistan, and India refuse to allow them? I know,I know, none of them are signatories to the NPT, but in terms of the potential consequences of any of those states possessing nuclear weapons, that is just a bunch of legal BS. The real reason is that Iran is considered by Israel to be an existential threat, and has brought irresistible political pressure to bear on a succession of US administrations to do something about it. If you want to bring Iran into our interpretation of compliance with the NPT, I would suggest a full court press to get the Israelis to cough up theirs as well as part of a regional denuclearization treaty.



"Did we do that? ;)"

Perish the thought!!! We are a nation of laws. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

"Come on, the US has a very valid and rational reason to oppose Iran's development of nuclear weapons. To claim otherwise is disingenuous. If they were really just trying to develop nuclear power we would not be this opposed to the process. Why would we? Just to annoy them? The sanctions already do that. The real reason, if I may indulge in some humor, is that they are batsh!t crazy and might just decide to use a nuke if they had one. They are a true theocracy, and by definition religion isn't rational. One cannot predict what they might decide to do.

We made only token protests about India and Pakistan, etc. because we can trust them to be rational actors, and they only seem interested in weaponizing against one another- no ICBMs. Not so Iran."

I've already tried to deal with the irrational actor claim, so I can't add anymore here, except to say that if you consider the Pakistanis to be more rational than the Iranians, I'm at a loss for words. It is worth noting that Pakistan, specifically Abdul Qadeer Khan, the director of the Pak effort, provided North Korea, Libya, and Iran with most of what they needed to get started, centrifuge specs, warhead design specs, etc. Pretty rational, huh? Worse yet, the French provided the Israelis a complete turnkey system in the late 50's to early 60's. How's that for responsible, rational stewardship? Most of Israel's top military leadership, Israel Galili, Yigal Allon, Yitzhak Rabin, et al, were opposed to Israel acquiring nuclear weapons because they thought it would result in an arms race that would lead to exactly where we are today, and that in the event of a nuclear exchange Israel would be the loser because of its limited land area. All it would take to annihilate Israel would be 2-3 warheads to get thru, whereas the Muslim world could sustain much greater damage and survive. Ben Gurion should have listened to them.

"We had tensions with the Soviets many, many times, yet we always managed to defuse them. It's a two-way street, though, and the Iranian government simply isn't interested, and have maintained the crisis for a generation beyond the end of the Cold War, now. Well, they are interested in removing the sanctions, but they aren't really interested in sharing the Earth in peace with either us or Israel. I mean, our Cold-War need to support the Shah is no more. The Iranian Revolution is a fait accompli. So at this point we really don't intrinsically care much about how Iran is run. If they'd simply stop threatening us we would remove the sanctions completely and happily co-exist with them."

I just can't understand how you come to these conclusions. Iran is extremely interested in reaching an accommodation with us. they tried to open channels of communication several time during the Reagan Administration and at least once during Bush 2, and were rebuffed every time. During the Iran-Iraq war, which Saddam started,
we even provided Iraqi chemical weapons units with targeting information that resulted in devastating casualties during the Faw Peninsula campaign and allowed the Iraqis to force an Iranian retreat. So how you manage to come to the conclusion that they are threatening us is simply beyond my comprehension. We have been meddling in their internal affairs and trying to bring them down ever since. How do you expect them to respond?

"So, I guess that all I'm saying is that Iran is maintaining the crisis, not us. Which makes sense- the Iranian government has an interest in maintaining the crisis. It lets them point at the US and blame us for everything that goes wrong in their country. They have a boogeyman on which to direct the ire of their people. It keeps them in power. There is a nascent movement among Iran's youth for some change, and this terrifies them."

See above. Why on earth would they want to continue the current state of affairs? Our ill advised aggressive policies, significantly influenced by the Israeli lobby, have been primarily responsible for the current sad state of affairs. I guess you could say their refusal to cave in to our threats is responsible for maintaining the crisis, but that would be a stretch, at least for me.

"We didn't apologize to Iran with whom, you are correct, we are engaged in a mini-Cold-War. We apologized to the victims' families, and paid restitution."

What can I say?

"It doesn't surprise me, either. :) They're still wrong. Or, more likely, still just trying to maintain their ability to use the US as a boogeyman."

We'll never know for sure. But yes, the incident did provide them with an opportunity to rally public opinion, and they ran with it, just like countless other governments have down thru the ages. -


"And I respect "pinko com-symps." :)"

Cut it out, Dean, I'm getting all warm and fuzzy inside. But that doesn't mean I'm going to let you off easy. ;)

"Well, you know what I mean. Someone has to act as the conscience of the United States. And if I could only keep one thing from the Bill of Rights it would probably be Freedom of the Press."

If you're depending on the current corporatized press to act as the conscience of the country, uh.......

"Don't get me started, I might end up facing UCMJ action..."

I'll volunteer as a character witness on your behalf, if you let me tag along on the Mongolian Rally. ;0))

"As I've said before, I think that some of my opinions would surprise the hell out of you. I tend to be critical of a lot of prominent general officers, too."

Doesn't surprise me at all. It's just the Middle East/Russia where I think you drift off into the ozone at times.

"Eisenhower was right."

+100

"Down with Citizens United!"

Ditto

"Then why keep harping about ABMs? :)"

Just to send you off to do my research.

"But honestly, I don't think that ABMs are much of an issue between us and Russia, as it seems you are now acknowledging. They are annoyed that places like Ukraine and Georgia would dare leave their sphere, though. I agree with you on that. They are still a de facto hegemony, and would like to remain such."

They have a synergistic effect on a relationship that is in deep doo doo for more serious reasons. It gooses their deep seated suspicions of the West into overdrive.
They are beyond annoyed at this point, as should be pretty clear from the events of the last 24 hours.
While we're on the subject, you mentioned that they grudgingly accepted NATO's expansion into former Warsaw Pact countries. My take is that they were economically and politically incapacitated during the 90's and realized there was nothing they could do. so, they acquiesced to the reality, and set about rebuilding with a vengeance. We continued to act as if they were the basket case they were back then, and formulated our policy in Georgia and Ukraine as if that were still the case. Not surprisingly we got a rude awakening. Realpolitik 101 for those who delude themselves into believing that the world is as they want it to be instead of what it actually is.

"I admit that I still struggle with the concept that responding to overtures of fellowship from sovereign states like Ukraine or Georgia would be "aggressive." Does that mean that you would say thet we were justified in invading Cuba? :)"

The question would be who made the overtures? the Ukrainians or us? Did you read the transcript of Nuland's conversation with Pyatt I linked you to?

I would say we were justified in demanding the removal of the Soviet IRBM's during in 1962 crisis. But again, they were put there in response to our placement of IRBM's in Turkey, and we removed ours in return for them removing theirs.

As for invading Cuba, it was not geographically contiguous to us and had never been used as an invasion route into the US mainland. Nor had it ever been part of the US, as was Crimea part of Russia. Different situation. Besides, we had already invaded Cuba twice, once during the Spanish American War, and again in 1906 under Teddy Roosevelt, and we definitely considered it to be our playground. But that doesn't equate it to the Russian situation.

"Part of this is just that I don't really think of Russia as an imminent threat. Annoyingly nationalistic and militant, yes, but without the ideological motivation of the Soviet era they are unlikely to just decide on a whim to launch their ICBMs some day. So to a certain degree, yes, I wonder why they don't realize the same about us. Why should they care if Ukraine wants to join the EU? Really? Other than that they still consider Ukraine to be somehow "theirs"? Yes, I know their history and I know that they are scarred by it. But their Greatest Generation is dying off just as ours is. There should be no more institutional memory, there. The idea of an EU invasion of Russia is ludicrous. So, yes, I wish that they could see that. Hell, I wish they would join the EU! Then we could join with Canada and Mexico in the NAU, do away with the dollar, replace it with the Amero, and turn our military over to the UN!"

They have a much keener sense of history than we do, and the trauma of the Great Patriotic War is very much alive to this day, as is the Cold War. As long as we keep meddling on their borders the memories, institutional and individual, will remain very much alive. It is not the Europeans that exercise them so much as it is us. The EU nations are much more reluctant to provoke them, with good reason, as is indicated by the Nuland conversation I linked you to.

I wholeheartedly agree that bringing Russia into the EU first would have been the way to go, for reasons I stated earlier.

"OTOH we left Iraq when asked. It's looking like we're likely to leave Afghanistan when asked. Unfortunately I can't think of good recent examples closer to our shores. There was as I hinted Cuba, about which I admit that we grew one eyebrow, but that was the Cold-War so I don't feel it's really the same. Can you think of any similar recent (i.e. post-Cold War) examples where the US acted as Russia is acting over Ukraine? I'm drawing a blank."

We left Iraq because it was bleeding us white. Ditto Afghanistan. Closer to our shores? Grenada, Panama, were both in the one eyebrow camp for reasons which escape me, unless you subscribe to the opinion that maintains Reagan was just tying to rebuild our military's confidence/morale after the trauma of Viet Nam.

Edited by ouzel on 03/01/2014 21:01:49 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: ad hominems on 03/01/2014 15:38:22 MST Print View

If you want to understand Iran, you have to consider the 1953 coup orchestrated by CIA, e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d'%C3%A9tat

Mosaddegh took over with popular support, wanted to democracize the country, and wanted to nationalize the oil supply because he thought the British got an unfairly low priced deal.

The CIA orchestrated a coup that put the Shah in power. Dictator. Killed anyone that opposed him. Was overthrown in 1979 by religious extremists. CIA released documents in 2013 acknowledging this. 60 years of chaos exacerbated by our meddling.

Everyone in Iran knows this well. People in the U.S. ignore it.

When they deal with us now, they mistrust because of this history.

Hey, this is sort of like Venezuela - Chavez had popular support and wanted a high (fair) price for his oil. Except we were unsuccessful at getting rid of him.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Russia escalates on 03/01/2014 20:23:39 MST Print View

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26403996

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: ad hominems on 03/02/2014 09:08:59 MST Print View

jerry, you are jumping in to this rather late. Bringing up the Iranian Revolution now is like telling a fat person to eat less, Captain Obvious. This is an old discussion between Tom and I. Just stand back and enjoy the fireworks, here, ok? :)

(Hopefully that comes across in the humorous tone for which I intended it.)

>>> I just wish I could get you to agree that the Russians have vital interests in the area, both historically and strategically.

See?!? You're doing it again! I must have some sort of defect because I'm not agreeing with you! :P

Plus, that's an untrue and misleading statement. I very clearly said earlier that Russia had drawn a line in the sand, and that line is former Soviet Republics. I also said that I understood Russia's history and how that contributes to their paranoid worldview. I understand all of this, Tom. As I have said many, many times. And, yes, their response was predictable.

But surely Ukraine has interests in Ukraine, too, eh? They want prosperity, just like everyone else in the world, and a valid avenue for them is the EU. You cannot deny that Russia is being rather aggressive.

Not to mention (since you love realpolitik) it's hard to dispute that the US and the West have "interests" in Ukraine, too, and that we need to start removing possible Russian power bases now while we can before they again grow into a paranoid, nationalistic, militant superpower again. (Which it looks like they are going to do, eventually. It's hard not to when you're the largest nation on Earth.)

>>> However, proceeding from the premise that they are, in fact, rational actors, as they have so far proven to be, the prospect of certain annihilation following their use makes that likelihood about as remote as it can be.

I disagree that they are all that rational, and place the risk just a hair higher than I am comfortable with.

There are really only two states in the world that I would characterize with the unfortunate Bush sobriquet "Rogue", but Iran is half of them... :)

>>> It is implicit in our being the only nation to ever have used them.

That was predictable of you, Tom, and I don't buy that at all. (Seriously, I knew that would be your answer. I said it aloud when I typed that.)

So I will respond that the fact that Iran cannot be trusted with nukes is implicit in their ongoing support of terrorism and declared intent to destroy both the United States and Israel. If they are just making hollow threats as a part of some negotiation strategy then they are doing too good a job of it. :)

>>> JFK threatened the USSR during the Cuban Missile Crisis by putting our ICBM's and SAC on high alert... Later admitting that the warning to Saddam was a bluff doesn't discount the initial blackmail.

I already said that MAD/Cold-War doesn't count. It was mutual. :) And even if admitting that it was bluffing later doesn't count (as you contend and I contest) it would still have merely been a warning that use of one WMD would result in a similar response. That's not blackmail- it's a warning that were we prepared to defend ourselves.

>>>See my comments immediately above

No, see your comments above to the effect that Iran would never support terrorists because most of them are Sunni. Which is falsifiable, as I have shown, and with which you tacitly agree since you have just laid out an apologia for why they do so.

>>> Note our muted reaction to the military coup in Egypt and the brutal suppression of the majority Shia'a population of Bahrain by a Sunni minority, not to mention a corrupt medieval monarchy in Saudi Arabia and its oppressive policies.

This is a classic curse of the United States. When we meddle we get accused of imperialism. When we don't we get accused of isolationism and are asked to police the world. There is no right answer, here. I was actually quite happy that we did not interfere with the Arab Spring, for instance. That seemed like something that we had to let them figure out on their own, even if it was a victory for the Muslim Brotherhood and similar Islamist groups to some degree.

>>>But I was trained to separate my moral judgments from my analysis of international relations and what can realistically be accomplished in any given set of circumstances.

Ok, we're getting to a root issue here, I think. Because all of my arguments are based on moral positions. I don't think it is right for Russia to threaten the Ukraine given the current situation of the world, for instance. (E.g. no Cold War ideological conflict.) If you are consciously trying to ignore morality then we're never going to agree. Quite simply. Because that's basically what I've been trying to get you to do- make a moral call! In a lot of ways I'm in fact glossing over most of the realpolitik that you obsess about- it is obvious to me and thus not very interesting. I'm sort of trying to pie-in-the-sky an ideal world, here.

For instance it is obvious why the Russians want to keep Ukraine in their sphere. I'd much rather point out that Ukraine has a right of self-determination, and that the Russian's are wrong to do what they are doing. The Russians benefit from keeping Ukraine in there sphere (or perceive so) in many different ways, but certainly Ukraine would be much better off in the EU than orbiting the Russians.

Likewise Palestine. I don't care what your motivation is, assassinating schoolchildren gets you placed on my hated list. (And, yes, I consider assassination and collateral damage to be morally discrete, though nonetheless tragic.) This position is a bit more extreme on my part for several reasons. Foremost, of course, is that I am a father. In fact I fear what I might do if anyone ever threatened Katie and I believed them. Also I am twice in the business of protecting people. I'm a doctor, and a soldier. (At least, defense is what I consider to be a soldier's business.) That does color my perspective and perhaps makes me rather more critical of terrorists.

I actually don't have much objection with insurgents who attack military targets. Them's the breaks. But in the modern world there should be no valid reason to murder noncombatants. Especially children. And, yes, I include random rocketing of urban centers, which are clearly the target of the Qassams. (And yes, before you try to pull a tired ignoratio elenchi again, the US did pattern-bomb German and Japanese cities. Two wrongs don't make a right.)

And Iran. Wow. Yeah, there's a lot of baggage there. But note that my point earlier was that the Revolution was over thirty years ago, the Shah is long since no more, the Cold War that led us to support him is ended, etc. They absolutely do maintain this standoff with the US intentionally (and it is just so easy for the US to maintain economic sanctions in response) and I am convinced that it is to use us as a boogeyman to maintain power because, as I mentioned, there is a youth movement in Iran that is getting really tired of this sh!t. You'll have a had time convincing me otherwise. If their government can't survive without a boogeyman I would propose that it has no business existing. Given all of this IMO they should get over it, stop threatening everyone, and enter the community of nations. In my view they no longer have any actively valid reasons for behaving as they do. Maybe Americans have short memories- as they have been accused more than once- but the world would be a better place if everyone else did as well, wouldn't it?

So, it has to be a two-way street. And Obama's general "we'll offer you our hand, if only you will unclench your fist" strategy hasn't worked out very well, unfortunately. Damned nice turn of phrase, though.

I guess I really always knew that this was the basis of our ongoing feud over such things. It was just fun trying to get you to actually make a moral call. And you seem to be indulging me, now. :)

Plus, if you totally remove morality, what then do you strive for? "What is possible"? Not a very inspiring goal, that. Ultimately there is a moral undercurrent even to realpolitik. Ignore it at your peril, lest you lose your soul. (Metaphorically speaking.)

>>> I remember the conversation well, and I don't doubt for a moment that this was a case of Iranian nefariousness...I felt deeply sorry for them and disgusted with the Iranians.

Well, that's news. Because in my perception ALL YOU DID over and over in that conversation was defend Iran. If was very frustrating for me. So, now they are "nefarious?" I guess I'll take satisfaction in that. Or, more likely, you are merely coming to terms with our entire reality-vs-morality disconnect as I went over in the previous section. If so this might become a much less interesting conversation since, as I maintain, I doubt that we really disagree, here.

>>> China, as I said.

Oh, my bad- I thought that you were just talking about Nixon.

>>>When ideologues and corporate interests seize control of foreign policy, the results are predictable.

Down with Citizens United!

www.movetoamend.org

'Nuff said.

>>>Better, I say, to put our resources to work right here at home to work on problems we can reasonably hope to solve, and leave those benighted medievals to sort their situation out on their own.

So, you are in fact an isolationist? :) Why criticize us for our inaction in various situations earlier, then? :P

It's that damned US curse, again- we are expected to police the world without being coercive. Pffft.

More seriously- I have impulses both ways at different times. It's damned hard to know which is more appropriate in any given situation.

>>>In the process, we have seen our position of primacy in the world degraded, to be replaced by an emerging multipolar structure that promises to be at best challenging, and at worst extremely dangerous in years to come.

I'm not so sure that that's a failure on our part, per se. It's sort of just what happens. It seems that no superpower lasts forever (British Empire?) and I'm certain that we are no different. Especially without the Soviet boogeyman to keep so many others huddling under our protection. They are now free to seek their own destinies because, in general and unlike the Soviets, we won't invade them for it. Ultimately, we're Good Guys. Seriously- clearly the US has done underhanded sh!t, but ultimately we are a net force of good in the world. Unlike, for instance, the Soviets, Iran, or North Korea.

I guess that's how you tend to get me riled up. In constantly criticizing every step the US makes while defending all actions of jackassery on the part of anyone else you seem to be indicating that the US is the source of all evil and sorrow in the world. Which is absurd.

>>>Ya gotta keep up appearances in a rough neighborhood.

Well, that's a bit hypocritical. You seem to delight in criticizing the US for "keeping up appearances in rough neighborhood." :)

Hold Iran to the same standard, eh?

>>> If they did take control of it in Afghan airspace, it seems we would have intercepted, and recorded, their command signals. I mean, we pick up and record just about everything else, don't we? If so, where is the proof that they did so?

Actually, this is more of an argument that they didn't do any such meaconing at all and that it was merely a malfunction, as the US has been maintaining. So, again, the Iranians are just blustering about heir prowess.

Also, you give the US too much credit. I'm not buying the "argument from omnipotence", there. I've worked in that field... :)

More seriously, I doubt that we habitually maintain the capability of monitoring false GPS signals. Perhaps we will, now.

>>> As for inspections, do we submit to inspections? Do the Russians?

Uh, yes, we do. The existence of US and Russian nukes was a fait accompli and we were trapped in MAD long before anyone realized what a good idea nonproliferation was. So now we have agreements with the Russians wherein we inspect one another's facilities to ensure that our various treaties are being followed. (I know a guy who used to do that, as a matter of fact. Oddly enough he was a Navy corpsman.)

If you're saying that no one inspects our reactors to ensure that we aren't enriching uranium, well, yes that's true. (I think?) But then, no one is seriously trying to make either us or Russia de-arm. So again, I would propose that these are morally discrete actions, andI'm going to have to come down on the side of nonproliferation on this one. But Israel, for instance, is NEVER going to invade Iran- nor are we for that matter- unless they are a nuclear threat. So if they are such "rational actors" why do they persist in their nuclear threat? It would make more sense for them not to play such games. Unless they want war they are not rational actors- Q.E.D. :)

>>> Just to send you off to do my research.

Oh, that's underhanded...

>>> [Everything about the Iranian embargo.]

With the end of the Cold War the Iranian embargo is now as pointless as the Cuban one. I'll not argue that.

But all of the "overtures" you mentioned were far from serious. The Iranians didn't offer anything of substance in return. Seriously- nothing. The wouldn't make guarantees about the Strait, they wouldn't tone down Hamas, etc. Why give them what they wanted?

Well, actually, I'm just talking about the Reagan-era stuff. I really don't know about the Bush-era stuff. Go do my research for me!

But I'll grant that our relationship with Iran was mishandled in several epic ways. Even given that it was during the Cold War.

>>> wholeheartedly agree that bringing Russia into the EU first would have been the way to go, for reasons I stated earlier.

But that's never, ever going to happen, and not because of us- the Russians won't have it. There! I turned realpolitik back on you! :)

>>>Grenada, Panama, were both in the one eyebrow camp for reasons which escape me, unless you subscribe to the opinion that maintains Reagan was just tying to rebuild our military's confidence/morale after the trauma of Viet Nam.

Ah, yes! I thought to mention Grenada after I had posted. But again- Cold War. Frankly Panama puzzles me. It doesn't fit into any schema very neatly. To this day I'm not really sure why we did that... I mean, hell, for once we were removing a right-wing dictator! What's up with that? :)

Wow. That was a much shorter post than usual. But we're at the point of rehashing the same stuff, and I'm growing weary of it.

Edited by acrosome on 03/02/2014 14:09:23 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: ad hominems on 03/02/2014 09:40:45 MST Print View

"Just stand back and enjoy the fireworks, here, ok? :)"

I'm not really into drama for the sake of drama. More into fostering understanding and peace between us citizens so we will unite against Citizen's United : )

If Iran had overturned our government 60 years ago and then a fundamentalist religious group took over 30 years ago do you think we would just dismiss that, or would it be at the front of our mind whenever we dealt with them?

I think Iran has been amazingly forgiving. The Iranian people have a good feeling towards Amertican people. Yeah, their right wing government uses us as boogymen, and ours vice versa.

I think it would be helpful if we acknowledged that we (and Britain and other European countries) have treated other countries selfishly and it's time to move to a new paradigm where other countries are treated equally and fairly.

Obama said something about how he feels like America is "exceptional" but other countries think they're exceptional too. Step in the right direction. It'll take a long time to transition, sort of like racism or whatever. Us old nuts have to die off.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Lateness on 03/02/2014 09:51:24 MST Print View

You're only making my point for me, jerry. You're coming into this discussion very late. Tom and I have covered all of that ad nauseum. On other threads, even. Now it looks like we're finally wrapping up, again. Don't stoke the fire. :)

Edited by acrosome on 03/02/2014 10:25:35 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Lateness on 03/02/2014 09:59:44 MST Print View

That's what I get for going off into the wilderness for a few days : )

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Lateness on 03/02/2014 10:28:10 MST Print View

I wish I could have been there. This is my curse- I can never predict when I'm going to have an inpatient on the weekends, so my wilderness excursions almost without exception have to be hashed out at the last minute and solo.

They are also, of course, dependent on my wife not having plans for me. And it's hard to tell her not to when I don't even know if I'll have an inpatient or not.

I simply do not get out as much as most of the rest of you. :(

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
hmmm on 03/02/2014 12:02:40 MST Print View

sitting down in a comfy chair to watch the fun! (just finished popping my popcorn too)

Nothing changes around here.....lol

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: Lateness on 03/02/2014 15:28:31 MST Print View

"I simply do not get out as much as most of the rest of you. :("

You and me both. For me it's being a single parent of an elderly puppy. My pet sitting bill is $130/day-night, and my sitter has to be available for an overnight (she stays in my home overnight). This rules out most holidays, and the cost simply means I can't get out that often. Generally, even when flying somewhere, my pet sitting bill is the most expensive part of any backpacking trip!

So it's doubly disappointing when a planned trip all of a sudden starts coming apart, as my current planned trip started to do. I was supposed to fly to Michigan this morning for a week (Mon-Thur) backpacking in the UP at Pictured Rocks with a good friend (Ike). As I got up this morning an expected minor storm here was all of a sudden a major winter storm - 8"-12" of snow expected tomorrow. Anyone who knows the DC area knows that 2"-4" of snow can close the place down, 8"-12" is near armageddon! I tried contacting my sitter to ensure she'd still be able to make it before I flew, but couldn't get ahold of her.

Fortunately, Ike is very patient and flexible, so we've moved the trip to Thur-Sun (flying out Wed). Gotta love Southwest, no extra charge at all to change the tickets. They never charge a change fee, but will charge the difference in ticket price. I bought the tickets last month, so last minute tickets were nearly twice as much. But because of the approaching storm, even though not a flake has fallen yet, they're waiving any additional ticket cost. It's why I fly them whenever possible.

So I'm still getting out! Woohoo!

And a big shoutout to HMG! As I packed my winter gear into my 3-season pack last night, I realized it wasn't going to fit. I told Ike I'd have to hang a bag off the pack of my pack to be able to bring everything, and that he wasn't allowed to take pics of it! :-) On a lark I called HMG to see if they had any 4400 Porters in stock that they could Fedex overnight for tomorrow delivery to Michigan. They weren't sure since they weren't in the shop when we talked. But they (Dan and Mike) told me if they didn't have one in stock, they'd make me one in the morning and ship it in the afternoon so I'd get it Tuesday. That's some pretty amazing customer service.

Then Dan went by the shop and found that they did have one in stock, he called me back and took my order, and one is already boxed up and ready to go out tomorrow. All this on a Sunday. Highly impressed.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: ad hominems on 03/02/2014 18:00:25 MST Print View

"Wow. That was a much shorter post than usual. But we're at the point of rehashing the same stuff, and I'm growing weary of it."

Yeah. Me, too. It always ends up this way. Sort of like a boxing match that goes the distance, where two weary pugs stagger to the middle of the ring, touch gloves and wearily flail away at each other while the ref tries to suppress a giggle. ;)


"See?!? You're doing it again! I must have some sort of defect because I'm not agreeing with you! :P"

Sometimes I feel that way, but immediately realize that you are simply proceeding from entirely different assumptions, usually based on how the world should work, whereas I proceed, or try to, based on perceptions of how the world actually does work. You think that I think that you have a defect, and versa vice-a. I think. ;0)


"Plus, that's an untrue and misleading statement. I very clearly said earlier that Russia had drawn a line in the sand, and that line is former Soviet Republics. I also said that I understood Russia's history and how that contributes to their paranoid worldview. I understand all of this, Tom. As I have said many, many times. And, yes, their response was predictable."

Oh goody. I take it all back.

"But surely Ukraine has interests in Ukraine, too, eh? They want prosperity, just like everyone else in the world, and a valid avenue for them is the EU."

Of course they do, and in an ideal world, they would be completely free to choose their destiny. However, the real world does not permit that at this point in time, as events are proving. Where we disagree is on who is to blame for creating a situation where the Ukrainians are not free to choose that destiny. That is one of the basic points on which we disagree. Another way to look at it is that we have a Monroe Doctrine, which we have vigorously enforced, and it now appears as if Russia is in the process of enforcing a "Putin Doctrine" without going to the trouble of formally proclaiming it. First Georgia, and now Ukraine. There is a certain consistency here, and the principle is the same: No foreign powers trying to gain a foothold in the a defined area of strategic interest. I have to say, though, that theirs is a bit more modest in scope. The Monroe Doctrine applies to the entire Americas, whereas theirs is clearly limited to the "near abroad".

"You cannot deny that Russia is being rather aggressive."

I would call it proactive defense in response to a perceived threat that has been growing ever more serious in their minds ever since Clinton expanded NATO, and has now crossed their threshold of tolerance. Does anyone remember what Kennan predicted? Or even care? Point being, it's not just me making this argument.

"Not to mention (since you love realpolitik) it's hard to dispute that the US and the West have "interests" in Ukraine, too, and that we need to start removing possible Russian power bases now while we can before they again grow into a paranoid, nationalistic, militant superpower again."

Now that is a frightening proposition. Aside from disagreeing with your premise that the US in particular has any legitimate strategic interest in Ukraine, what you are proposing has led to the very dicey situation we are now confronting and, pursued to its conclusion, will almost certainly lead to a full blown military confrontation between the West and Russia. One thing I doubt we would disagree on is that should such a confrontation come to pass, no one will emerge victorious. And that is why I believe in dealing with the world as it is, not as some group of ideologues think it should be. This is particularly true in the modern era, when the weapons likely to be employed in a full scale war between two modern militaries are of such destructive power as to threaten the civilization we have spent the last 10,000 years building up, slowly and painfully at such great cost. Let us instead keep our eyes on a moral compass while proceeding slowly, one achievable goal at a time, at a pace that does not provoke such conflicts, cognizant of the fact that there is no consensus on a universal set of morals, let alone agreement that ours should be recognized as the standard by which other moral systems should be judged. Otherwise, we will find ourselves more or less continually involved in conflicts of varying intensities that will sap our will and resources, leaving us unable to deal with a growing list of festering domestic problems while achieving nothing abroad except to create a longer list of enemies.

"I disagree that they are all that rational, and place the risk just a hair higher than I am comfortable with." Perhaps you could give me examples of irrational behavior on their part?

"There are really only two states in the world that I would characterize with the unfortunate Bush sobriquet "Rogue", but Iran is half of them... :)"

How sad.

"That was predictable of you, Tom, and I don't buy that at all. (Seriously, I knew that would be your answer. I said it aloud when I typed that.)"

Nonetheless, the facts are the facts, and they speak for themselves.

"So I will respond that the fact that Iran cannot be trusted with nukes is implicit in their ongoing support of terrorism and declared intent to destroy both the United States and Israel. If they are just making hollow threats as a part of some negotiation strategy then they are doing too good a job of it. :)"

One nation's terrorists are another nation's resistance by any means available to an overwhelmingly superior opponent. Sort of like our own irregulars during the War of Independence? The Viet Cong? The ANC in South Africa? And so on. As for their declared intent to destroy the US and Israel, it is a lot of rhetoric. As I said before, they know full what the outcome would be and they are definitely not suicidal.
It's not so much that they are doing too good a job of it but, rather, that we have been very adept at convincing our population that Iran means it. Same goes for Israel.


"I already said that MAD/Cold-War doesn't count. It was mutual."

It does to me, given our history


"And even if admitting that it was bluffing later doesn't count (as you contend and I contest) it would still have merely been a warning that use of one WMD would result in a similar response. That's not blackmail- it's a warning that were
we prepared to defend ourselves."

Ah, so bluffing doesn't count when your history might lead an opponent that you actually mean it? What can I say.

As for Saddam, do you really equate chemical weapons with nuclear weapons? They are most definitely not in the same category by any rational standards of destructive power or environmental persistence. There are wmd's and then there WMD's.

"No, see your comments above to the effect that Iran would never support terrorists because most of them are Sunni. Which is falsifiable, as I have shown, and with which you tacitly agree since you have just laid out an apologia for why they do so."

The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and the extent of their support to date has been small arms in the case of Sunni Hamas. Nukes are an entirely different beast, even for Hizbullah, for reasons I outlined earlier, having to do with swift and certain annihilation.

"This is a classic curse of the United States. When we meddle we get accused of imperialism. When we don't we get accused of isolationism and are asked to police the world. There is no right answer, here. I was actually quite happy that we did not interfere with the Arab Spring, for instance. That seemed like something that we had to let them figure out on their own, even if it was a victory for the Muslim Brotherhood and similar Islamist groups to some degree."

I don't think the Shia'a in Bahrain or the Egyptians, or anybody else in the Middle East other than Israel and the unsavory dictators we support has ever shown concern over us going isolationist. Imperialism is another matter, and that word is often associated with the US lately, a most unwelcome development, IMO. Might not policing
the world be better accomplished as part of a consortium of powers representing the various regions of the world, thereby offering the possibility of culturally sensitive policing? See, I am idealist, too. :) As things stand, we did interfere with the Arab Spring by continuing to support the Egyptian military after their coup, primarily due to Israeli, but also Saudi, concerns, and turned a blind eye to the brutal suppression of the Shia'a in Bahrain. The masses of disaffected youth in the Middle East will not soon forget this.

"Ok, we're getting to a root issue here, I think. Because all of my arguments are based on moral positions. I don't think it is right for Russia to threaten the Ukraine given the current situation of the world, for instance. (E.g. no Cold War ideological conflict.) If you are consciously trying to ignore morality then we're never going to agree. Quite simply. Because that's basically what I've been trying to get you to do- make a moral call! In a lot of ways I'm in fact glossing over most of the realpolitik that you obsess about- it is obvious to me and thus not very interesting. I'm sort of trying to pie-in-the-sky an ideal world, here."

I am not ignoring morality, Dean. As I pointed out above, there is no world consensus on morality, and people are willing to die to prevent us from imposing our own on them. Did Iraq teach us nothing? Afghanistan? Libya? To make matters worse, we are not even consistent in our attempts to impose our morals. Jordan? Saudi? Bahrain? Egypt? And a host of other unsavories that we do business with. frankly, people in many parts of the world have other moral imperatives, like food, shelter, medical care that preoccupy them and inform their policies. things like democracy, freedom of speech, 2nd amendment, etc are of far less importance, if they are even important at all. If we've been pieing in the sky all this time, you've done a masterful job of deceiving me. Talk about underhanded. :) You introduced realpolitik into this discussion, and I accepted it as the basis for the discussion, because I know for a certainty that trying to conduct foreign relations primarily on the basis of one's own morals is a recipe for disaster. To the degree that we have fallen into that trap, we have gotten a lot of people killed. And I fear we are in the process of making that mistake again, with potentially disastrous consequences, both in the near term and on into the future. It often seems to me that our foreign policy is a schizophrenic mix of our peculiar morality and realpolitik, inconsistently applied. It has not served us well. As for my sense of morality, I do in fact have a well developed moral system, but it is just that, personal. I would never think to try to impose it on others. It is a synthesis of principles and insights I have picked up from many cultures in the course of my wanderings and has worked very well for me in guiding my personal life. I do feel, however, that if ever a consensus on universal morals is to be achieved, it will have to include the wisdom of many systems around the world, in particular those that have stood the test of time. In such a system, our Western emphasis on the individual and individual freedom disconnected from individual responsibility will almost certainly not be given primacy. In a similar vein, I do not feel that we should be aggressively pushing our national moral system on others. I'll let it go at that. this a very difficult subject to deal with in a forum post, and I fear I may be edging into incoherence here. We will learn, or we won't, one hard lesson at a time. It has always been so for humanity, and we are no different. Simple as that.

"For instance it is obvious why the Russians want to keep Ukraine in their sphere. I'd much rather point out that Ukraine has a right of self-determination, and that the Russian's are wrong to do what they are doing. The Russians benefit from keeping Ukraine in there sphere (or perceive so) in many different ways, but certainly Ukraine would be much better off in the EU than orbiting the Russians."

Yes, but that doesn't change the way things are going to work out. It is much more complicated than that, and if I haven't had any impact on how you see the situation by now, I never will. The Russians will do what they will do, and we will respond, hopefully with a bit more restraint than we have hitherto exercised. Ukraine's rights don't really enter into it at this point, much as you, and I for that matter, might wish otherwise. That is the realpolitik of it. Ukraine is not the first to be caught between giants, nor will it be the last, I fear.

"Likewise Palestine. I don't care what your motivation is, assassinating schoolchildren gets you placed on my hated list. (And, yes, I consider assassination and collateral damage to be morally discrete, though nonetheless tragic.) This position is a bit more extreme on my part for several reasons. Foremost, of course, is that I am a father. In fact I fear what I might do if anyone ever threatened Katie and I believed them. Also I am twice in the business of protecting people. I'm a doctor, and a soldier. (At least, defense is what I consider to be a soldier's business.) That does color my perspective and perhaps makes me rather more critical of terrorists."

I totally appreciate what you are saying here, but your focus on the Palestinians as the only terrorists troubles me. Again, I urge you to read at least one on the 2 books I recommended to you, if you wish to fully understand what is going on over there. You owe it to yourself as a man of intellectual integrity, as a doctor, a father, and, yes, a soldier. I hope you will do that reading, and I will look forward to reopening this discussion at that point. I would really appreciate knowing how you feel at that point.

I also agree that a soldier's business is defense. My problem with our military is that we are no longer in the business of defense in most cases, IMO, but that of imposing our will on the world from a network of bases in over 140 countries. to what ends I am not sure, but it is a fool's errand and we will end up as so many before us. I feel our military has been misused to the point of abuse, and you of all people understand the price that has been paid, far better than I, from the nature of your profession.


"I actually don't have much objection with insurgents who attack military targets. Them's the breaks. But in the modern world there should be no valid reason to murder noncombatants. Especially children. And, yes, I include random rocketing of urban centers, which are clearly the target of the Qassams. (And yes, before you try to pull a tired ignoratio elenchi again, the US did pattern-bomb German and Japanese cities. Two wrongs don't make a right.)"

Please, read those books. Nothing I could say will make any sense until you do.

"And Iran. Wow. Yeah, there's a lot of baggage there. But note that my point earlier was that the Revolution was over thirty years ago, the Shah is long since no more, the Cold War that led us to support him is ended, etc. They absolutely do maintain this standoff with the US intentionally (and it is just so easy for the US to maintain economic sanctions in response) and I am convinced that it is to use us as a boogeyman to maintain power because, as I mentioned, there is a youth movement in Iran that is getting really tired of this sh!t. You'll have a had time convincing me otherwise. If their government can't survive without a boogeyman I would propose that it has no business existing. Given all of this IMO they should get over it, stop threatening everyone, and enter the community of nations. In my view they no longer have any actively valid reasons for behaving as they do. Maybe Americans have short memories- as they have been accused more than once- but the world would be a better place if everyone else did as well, wouldn't it?"

I've said all I can say on this subject. They are not at our gate. We are at theirs in overwhelming numbers. What do you expect them to do?

"I guess I really always knew that this was the basis of our ongoing feud over such things. It was just fun trying to get you to actually make a moral call. And you seem to be indulging me, now. :)"

We're not feuding. At least , I'm not. This is a fun discussion, even when it frustrates me. Yeah, you finally got me to throw you a bone. :)

"Plus, if you totally remove morality, what then do you strive for? "What is possible"? Not a very inspiring goal, that. Ultimately there is a moral undercurrent even to realpolitik. Ignore it at your peril, lest you lose your soul. (Metaphorically speaking.)"

I never have removed it, merely realized its limitations in foreign policy, as I hope I have explained above. Remember the Hippocratic oath. Would that we would apply it to our relations with other nations.

"Well, that's news. Because in my perception ALL YOU DID over and over in that conversation was defend Iran. If was very frustrating for me. So, now they are "nefarious?" I guess I'll take satisfaction in that. Or, more likely, you are merely coming to terms with our entire reality-vs-morality disconnect as I went over in the previous section. If so this might become a much less interesting conversation since, as I maintain, I doubt that we really disagree, here."

I was not defending them so much as trying t explain to you why they behave as they do. It has nothing to do with my opinion of them and their culture. They are like any other people, a mix of good and bad.

&>>>When ideologues and corporate interests seize control of foreign policy, the results are predictable.



"So, you are in fact an isolationist? :) Why criticize us for our inaction in various situations earlier, then? :P"

Far from it. I just prefer to engage a little more cooperatively, and with less tendency to draw the sword as our first option. If we followed that advice, we'd get a lot farther, IMO.

"It's that damned US curse, again- we are expected to police the world without being coercive. Pffft."

Just because others expect us to do their dirty work doesn't mean we have to oblige them. Nor do we have to lead the world to the promised land.

"More seriously- I have impulses both ways at different times. It's damned hard to know which is more appropriate in any given situation."

When in doubt, stop and think, and maybe do nothing at all.

"I'm not so sure that that's a failure on our part, per se. It's sort of just what happens. It seems that no superpower lasts forever (British Empire?) and I'm certain that we are no different. Especially without the Soviet boogeyman to keep so many others huddling under our protection. They are now free to seek their own destinies because, in general and unlike the Soviets, we won't invade them for it. Ultimately, we're Good Guys. Seriously- clearly the US has done underhanded sh!t, but ultimately we are a net force of good in the world. Unlike, for instance, the Soviets, Iran, or North Korea."

We could avoid that fate, and become a moral leader once again if we ceased trying to run the world.

I would agree that we have been a net force for good up until recently. That has begun to change since the collapse of the USSR, as I knew it would. I told my wife so back in 1992, and it has come to pass. Not bragging here. It is true.

"I guess that's how you tend to get me riled up. In constantly criticizing every step the US makes while defending all actions of jackassery on the part of anyone else you seem to be indicating that the US is the source of all evil and sorrow in the world. Which is absurd."

If I give you that impression, I am sorry. I criticize because I see a country I love going down the tubes, and it causes me a lot of anguish. And I do not defend jackassery, as you call it. I am trying to explain to you why they behave that way, and how our actions play into it. There is a huge difference there. And I have NEVER said the US is the source of all evil in the world. I think you know that, too, whether or not you'll admit it.

"Well, that's a bit hypocritical. You seem to delight in criticizing the US for "keeping up appearances in rough neighborhood." :)"

It's not the US's neighborhood.

"Hold Iran to the same standard, eh?"

I would if they were on our borders with overwhelming making all sorts of threats.


"More seriously, I doubt that we habitually maintain the capability of monitoring false GPS signals. Perhaps we will, now."

Or maybe keep our drones out of their airspace?

"Uh, yes, we do. The existence of US and Russian nukes was a fait accompli and we were trapped in MAD long before anyone realized what a good idea nonproliferation was. So now we have agreements with the Russians wherein we inspect one another's facilities to ensure that our various treaties are being followed. (I know a guy who used to do that, as a matter of fact. Oddly enough he was a Navy corpsman.)"

Inspections limited to our treaties with the Russians.

"If you're saying that no one inspects our reactors to ensure that we aren't enriching uranium, well, yes that's true. (I think?) But then, no one is seriously trying to make either us or Russia de-arm. So again, I would propose that these are morally discrete actions, andI'm going to have to come down on the side of nonproliferation on this one. But Israel, for instance, is NEVER going to invade Iran- nor are we for that matter- unless they are a nuclear threat. So if they are such "rational actors" why do they persist in their nuclear threat? It would make more sense for them not to play such games. Unless they want war they are not rational actors- Q.E.D. :)"

Funny, I thought that one section of the NPT stated that in return for non nuclear states forswearing nukes, the nuclear powers would eliminate theirs. Not a lot of progress in that regard. Just us and the Russians, and we've still got enough to incinerate the world several times over.

We've been over the Iranians reasons for want the bomb, and it has nothing to do with wanting war. One last time: They want the hegemony/blackmail to stop.

"But all of the "overtures" you mentioned were far from serious. The Iranians didn't offer anything of substance in return. Seriously- nothing. The wouldn't make guarantees about the Strait, they wouldn't tone down Hamas, etc. Why give them what they wanted?"

As to the Straits of Hormuz, that's their version of all options are on the table. We take the military option off the table, they take the Straits option off the table. :)

"Well, actually, I'm just talking about the Reagan-era stuff. I really don't know about the Bush-era stuff. Go do my research for me!"

Hey, do you really think an underhanded guy like me would fall for that? ;0))

"But I'll grant that our relationship with Iran was mishandled in several epic ways. Even given that it was during the Cold War."

Ah, the sweet smell of progress. :)

"But that's never, ever going to happen, and not because of us- the Russians won't have it. There! I turned realpolitik back on you! :)"

No, and it was a golden opportunity to combine realpolitik with morality. We blew that one due to Cold War thinking after the Cold War was over. Sad.

"Ah, yes! I thought to mention Grenada after I had posted. But again- Cold War. Frankly Panama puzzles me. It doesn't fit into any schema very neatly. To this day I'm not really sure why we did that... I mean, hell, for once we were removing a right-wing dictator! What's up with that? :)"

I'm not sure.

Edited by ouzel on 03/02/2014 21:39:29 MST.