2005 January 29 Saturday
War Nerd Predicts Bush Will Attack Iran

Pseudonymous Gary Brecher (who may actually be two editors at eXile) predicts that Bush will attack Iran because he doesn't have a lick of sense.

So Khameini's right; we can't attack Iran. But that doesn't mean we won't. Khameini was making the same mistake everybody's been making: assuming Bush and his cronies have a lick of sense.

The best way of guessing what Bush will do is asking, what's the worst thing he could do to America? Whatever it is, that's what he'll do. I think he's been possessed by bin Laden, because everything he's done has been exactly what Al Quaeda hoped for. Right now, bin Laden is praying to Allah that we'll be stupid enough to attack Iran. That would be the cherry on his halal sundae, the one thing that could actually finish us off as a Superpower.

Brecher predicts an invasion. I do not see how that is physically possible. Where would the troops come from? The US miltiary is increasingly hard put just to maintain current troop levels in Iraq. By the time the Iraqi government might become a sufficiently efficient police state to lock up all the families of the insurgents Bush's days in office are going to be numbered. Bush couldn't set up an attack on Iran in 2008. I have a hard time imagining he could get approval for an attack through Congress in 2006 (a Congressional election year) and in 2007 seems iffy too.

A bunch of air strikes are, however, are doable logistically. If Rumsfeld's intelligence agency can get enough special forces guys into Iran and find a bunch of nuclear weapons labs and factories to hit then the US Air Force will have a big target list and lots of JDAMs to use. But can Bush get approval for such strikes through Congress? Bush is going to become less popular, not more. Why would Congress want to go along with him? The Senate in particular has some moderate Republicans (Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Lincoln Chafee) who'd probably balk at such a prospect. Some moderate House Republicans would balk as well. To compensate for Republican defections would Joseph Lieberman support air strikes in order to prevent Iran from some day pointing nuclear weapons at Israel?

I think Brecher is right to argue that an invasion of Iran would have some large negative unintended consequences. Iran's kids want looser rules to live by far more than they want democracy. A substantial portion of the Iranians would resent foreign invaders kinda like the Sunnis do in Iraq. But the Iranians would be more competent in resistance and there would probably be an order of magnitude or more larger resistance movement in Iran.

Bush squandered the political capital he needed for his big plan for preemptive intervention to stop nuclear proliferation by choosing Iraq (oops, no nukes and no real effort to develop them) as his first target. The US can't financially afford a bigger war without a huge tax increase and cuts in social spending. Well, neither of those sources of more military funding are in the cards. At the same time, even US allies are feeling very (make that extremely) reluctant to get involved in another military adventure.

My take: an invasion of Iran is unlikely. Bush may do air strikes. But can he get together the political support domestically (forget about international) to carry out air strikes? If so, how?

Thanks to Steve Sailer for the reference to War Nerd's latest.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 January 29 11:24 PM  MidEast Iran

Amit Uttam said at January 30, 2005 1:22 AM:

When will the liberals realize that Prez. Bush is not some insane crazy psycho and realize that he is indeed a worthy adversary. Only through this understanding can they even begin to challenge his real power and his continuing legacy. Most Americans realize this and have elected him but the liberals have a hard time coming to grips with this. If only the liberals would realize that acting just like the evangalists but seeming to be carrying a populist message is not going to get you anywhere in this world because their core suporters are not the same morons that form Bush's main support group. People that support the democrats are a bit smarter and we need to be given that respect, stop acting like everything is such a certainity because you see it that way.

Attacking Iran is no small matter, unlike Iraq, Iran has a large religious support group that goes deep inside its society. Prez. Bush will have his hands full with Iraq to even think of Iran. But more importantly what are the so called liberals that believe in democracy, freedom and are such champions of debate belive in? Why is that these same so called liberals balk at any idea of removing dictators and then find no other solutions to the problem? These are hard questions and we need serious and sound people looking at them not people that just make idiotic "Fair and Balanced" judgements and write stupid articles like this one!!!

TangoMan said at January 30, 2005 2:18 AM:

OK, let's transport ourselves to the wacky world of Bush . . . click your heels three times . . OK here we are.

Advisor: Mr. President, please make a choice - do we attack Iran or do we try to maintain order in Iraq, especially now that we've brought the flower of democracy to Iraq?

President: But if we leave Iraq won't it erupt beyond the holy terror it is now?

Advisor: Iran is a graver danger to world peace than an anarchic Iraq. Let them sort out their own problems - we've got bigger fish to fry.

President: You're right. Bring 'em on. Order all forces to mobilize for Iran and institute Plan "Iranian Freedom" and this time they'll greet us with flowers in the street because Condi told me so.

OK, back to reality for the rest of us as we leave the President and his advisors on their own little world.

T. J. Madison said at January 30, 2005 12:02 PM:

Having read the eXile for quite some time, I see no reason to believe that "Gary" is one of the editors. He really does come off as a cynical, bored, data entry guy rather than an jaded, drug-addled expatriate.

Stephen said at January 30, 2005 5:47 PM:

Even without nukes Iran can hurt George a thousands times more than George can hurt Iran. The coalition are sitting ducks in Iraq, and I'm sure that both George and the Iranians know that. Any attack on Iran (whether air strikes or ground based) is an invitation to Iran to arm the Iraqi insurgents (at the very least), and/or to actively insert Iranian special forces into Iraq, each equiped with their choice of anti-personnel mine, anti-armour mine, anti-air missile or a sniper rifle. Watch the combatant death rates increase dramatically.

Teddy said at January 30, 2005 9:36 PM:

Okay, look, I’ll put this as simply as I can: From COLD FURY

1) Condi didn’t lie to anybody, and neither did Dubya. Lying implies both knowledge and intent, and neither has been remotely established, nor will they be, because they do not exist. We know that Saddam at one time had WMD’s; there is simply no argument possible on this. The fact of their existence was unquestioned by anybody, including the UN, after the first Gulf War, and we know he actually used them on more than one occasion. What we don’t know is where they all went, and if you on the Left were truly concerned about American security in the age of global terrorism you’d be a lot more worried about that than you are. You are not serious about defending this country. You are dead wrong, and you do not deserve to be taken seriously.

2) Bush acted on the best intelligence available in making the decision to remove Saddam from power; the same intelligence led President Clinton to make regime change the official goal of the USG back in ‘98. You on the Left did not denounce that policy change when Clinton made it; your interest in the matter begins and ends with your hatred of your fellow Americans who happen to be Republicans. You on the Left are not seriously concerned about the security of this nation. You are dead wrong, and you do not deserve to be taken seriously.

3) WMDs were by no means the only reason to remove Saddam. Saddam was an avowed enemy of this country. He called for our destruction many, many times. He aided and abetted Islamic terrorists of every warp and woof. He built the Salman Pak terrorist training camp. He provided safe harbor to terrorist killers like Abu Nidal and others. He encouraged the murderous depredations of Palestinian suicide bombers by rewarding their surviving family members with large cash payments which morally amounted to a bounty on the heads of innocent Israeli civilians. He attempted to assassinate a former US President, and just because it happened to be one you on the Left do not like does not mean that we as a nation can afford to ignore it. He attempted many, many times over the course of more than a decade to shoot down American aircraft engaged in a legitimate and UN-approved mission. Just because you on the Left don’t like the military any more than you like the aforementioned US President doesn’t mean that we as a nation can afford to ignore that. It’s one thing to ignore a ruthless, bloodthirsty, and out-of-control tyrant like Saddam on 9/10/01; it’s another thing entirely to do so on 9/12. You on the Left are not seriously concerned about the defense of this nation, its citizens, and its military personnel. You are dead wrong, and you do not deserve to be taken seriously.

4) The Iraq war, contrary to repeated and shrill accusations from the Left and the mainstream press, is part and parcel of the War on Terrorism and not a distraction from it. Saddam’s regime, as already noted, was a stalwart friend to Islamic terrorists, both in the Mideast and elsewhere. The Iraq war is part of a larger, bolder, and more comprehensive strategy, one spelled out explicitly by Bush many times but most recently and compellingly in his second inauguration speech. I won’t link to any specific support for these assertions; such links are scattered liberally throughout the archives here if you’re truly interested in looking them up. Anyone who thinks that Saddam was innocent of any connection to Islamic terrorism, or that Iraq had nothing whatever to do with the WoT, is either foolish, ill-informed, or disingenuously promoting an agenda different from the one they claim to be promoting. They are not serious about the security of this nation. They are dead wrong, and they do not deserve to be taken seriously.

5) There was no “rush to war,” and Bush did not ignore the Europeans. He spent a year and a half begging them for cooperation in enforcing 18 different UN resolutions that they themselves had voted for; they flatly refused, because they had crooked business deals (the Oil for Food scandal; see here for details) to protect and cover up and not for any moral reasons. If the Europeans hate us, it is because of their own corruption and/or cowardice and not because of anything we’ve done. Therefore, they are dead wrong, and do not deserve to be taken seriously. And if you’re all that worried about what people sniping at us from behind a defensive shield our tax dollars and military personnel provide for them think, neither do you.

6) The elections in Iraq—contrary to repeated shrill predictions from the Left and the mainstream press of disaster, postponement, cancellation, and subterfuge on the part of the US —will take place as scheduled this Sunday. It will be an historic first step on the road to self-determination for a people who have not known it in our lifetimes. Despite the Left’s overheated rhetoric accusing Bush of being a “despot,” a “tyrant,” a “dictator,” and so on, the real dictator is even now incarcerated, held by the people he so viciously wronged, and it’s directly due to Bush’s steadfastness and determination and not at all to the resistance to taking any action repeatedly and embarrassingly demonstrated by you on the Left. It’s a cliche, but it’s true: freedom is not free, and its cost is not measured in dollars but in blood. That blood has been shed by both Americans and Iraqis in pursuit of a dream of liberty and self-determination that you on the Left would deny them even now. You are not serious in your protestations of concern for the Iraqi people. You are dead wrong, and you do not deserve to be taken seriously.

That may seem overly didactic; it may seem oversimplified, and it may even seem harsh in places. But that’s the plain truth as I see it. Damn, I just pretty much summed up three and a half years of blogging right there.

gcochran said at January 30, 2005 10:38 PM:

Boring horseshit: Whatever makes you think that Randall Paker is a leftist? He's not. Neither am I. I guess the Army War College is a nest of leftists: leftists ike William Odom, like Zinni, like Hoar.

And for your points - all substantially false. Randall, you need to set up a FAQ.

Gradually, painfully slowly, fewer and fewer people believe this crap. It's too bad that they can only learn the hard way.

gcochran said at January 30, 2005 10:38 PM:

Boring horseshit: Whatever makes you think that Randall Paker is a leftist? He's not. Neither am I. I guess the Army War College is a nest of leftists: leftists ike William Odom, like Zinni, like Hoar.

And for your points - all substantially false. Randall, you need to set up a FAQ.

Gradually, painfully slowly, fewer and fewer people believe this crap. It's too bad that they can only learn the hard way.

gcochran said at January 30, 2005 11:33 PM:

The scariest, most consequential Administration claim (if true) was that Iraq had a nuclear weapons progam going. I kewn that wasn't true: Saddam had less than a tenth the cash flow he'd had pre-sanctions, and Iraqis aren't much when it coes to engineering and science: certainly not capable of a creating a nuclear program with local talent and resources that was invisible to spy satellites and all our other national technical technical means. And it was invisible: we never saw anything. No reactors, no gaseous diffusion plants, no calutrons eating up half of Iraq's power production: nothing. Did Condi and W understand that? Probaby not: they, like typical decisionmakers, know nothing about such things. They are stuuuuupid.

I knew that in general, with that talent base and no money coming in, Saddam was hardly the coming threat. I also knew that every tip we gave the UN inspectors, prewar, turned out empty. Every single one. There was one and only one simple explanation for that: we were full of shit. Our intelligence was garbage. The little old lady who lives next door knew that, but that doesn't mean that W or Condi did. You see, they're stupid; my neighbor is not. She reads the paper, W does not.

There was no terrorist training camp at Salman Pak. There was an old airline fuselage, sure - but you need that for training people in how to _retake_ a hijacked airplane without losing too many civilians - which is hard - not for training people how to hijack a plane - which is easy.
People like the Delta Force, SAS, GSG-9 train for years, and sometimes succeed. DB Cooper never trained at all: understand? And of course the CIA has now come to that conclusions as well. If indeed the kind of evidence that this pinhead claims existed, you'd think that the Administration would trumpet it to the skies: but they don't because it's too silly even for them, which is saying something. They surely claim that Saddam was linked to terrorism, but they never cite any specific examples of strieks agaisnt Us citizens- gee, why? Because none of them turned out to be true. We have the country in our palsied hands: you'd think we could pin that supposed Kuwait assassination attempt on them, what with capturing their capitol and everything: but no. We say nothing, because it never even happened.

Anbu Nidal wa retired: charges had been dropped after Oslo. When we started talking about his as an example of how Saddam supported terrorism, the Baathists obliginly shot him. What more do you want, egg in your beer?
Saddam was fairly dumb hismelf, and certainly evil, but he wasn't a kamikaze and didn't even particualrly hate the US. In fact he wanted to work with us again: his weapons programs were always aimed at deterrign Iran. Thats what the Duelfer report says anyhow, alogn woith affirming teh total nonexistecne of any current WMD programs: he's a Bush appointee. Why w ould he say this if it were not true? Does the conspiracy stretch that far?

Saddam hadn't had a thing to do with any anti-American terrorism in at least ten years. I doubt if the claimed attempt on the Bushes in Kuwait ever happened, having looked at the case: looks like a fake cooked up by the Kuwaitis. He had nothing to do with the first attack on the WTC, nothing to do with Khobar Towers, nothing to to do witht the embassy bombins in Africa, nothing to do witht eh Cole, notyhign to do with 9-11.

Saddam was about the fourth-biggest source of funds for Palestinians fighting against Israeli occupation. I don't much care about that. Thosse guys are Israel's enemies, not ours, and Saudi Arabia is a much bigger sources of funds that Iraq ever was.

The Baathists shot at our airplanes enforcing the no-fly zone: but they always missed. We never lost a plane, never had one hit. I would have to really work to get excited about that, particularly since it was their country. The UN never approved no-fly, by the way.

I liked no-fly. it was cheap: our current policy costs about fifty times as much per year and cripples a lot of rednecks, which I don't much like.

As for the election, I don't expect much out of it. They're not citizens, they have no idea what a citizen is. I think the guerrilla war will continue, with the potential to get a lot worse if the Shi'ites are disappointed and start shooting at us again.

Do I think that it will be a big step forward for freedom? No, no more than the usual Turkish election is, no more than the Turkish military overthrowing their elected government is a big loss for freedom. They don't much matter. If Iraq had no oil, they'd be about as poor as Zambia and nearly as interesting.

We've spent blood and treasure for nothing. Bush has made claims that were false and easily seen to be false: he's a liar, a moron, or both. And for sure he's a fool.

Stephen said at January 31, 2005 12:20 AM:

The central mystery still remains - why?

We can't put it down to stupidity because other countries are part of the coalition and stupidity isn't that contagious. Sure many coalition partners are US lapdogs (Australia, south korea etc) or could be bribed (ex-communist block), but that doesn't explain the presence of others like the UK, Denmark, Norway, New Zealand & Japan.

It can't be oil, because I can't see oil rich countries like Norway and the UK really caring that much - and they're certainly not going to get oil exploitation concesions which would surely go to US coys. Nor can I imagine some of those democracies being so cynical that they'd invade a country on false pretences.

Why did the case for the invasion stay afloat even after its factual basis had been essentially demolished? Why weren't heads of intel agencies and the intel analysts in coalition countries resigning in droves? Why weren't defence & foreign ministers resigning in protest? At the very least they should have been leaking to the media like crazy.

Why did the checks & balances built into western government fail??

Why aren't we ashamed?

Stephen said at January 31, 2005 2:06 AM:

I don't believe the 'freedom & democracy' argument either. The coalition could have brought enlightenment to 10 african countries for the same (or less) effort expended in Iraq.

FriendlyFire said at January 31, 2005 4:50 AM:

President Clinton to make regime change the official goal of the USG back in ‘98. You on the Left did not denounce that policy change when Clinton made it

"Clinton undercut our military by sending them into useless nation building execises" - Condoleezza Rice

Well guess WHO DENOUNCED that policy ?
We so badly need accountability and responsibilty inside the Bush administration.
If you are so blind to not see the mistakes being made then you cannot correct them.

FriendlyFire said at January 31, 2005 5:10 AM:

Condi didn’t lie to anybody, and neither did Dubya. Lying implies both knowledge and intent, and neither has been remotely established, nor will they be, because they do not exist.

"At a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility. At worst, lying, incompetence and corruption It should be evident to everybody that they've screwed up"
- General Anthony Zinni - Former central command chief

As President Bush so often likes to say "Nothing could be further from the truth"
Its seems so strange that people are willing to believe that President Bush didnt lie, Because the ONLY other possible conclusion is incompetance. I'd much rather believe they knowingly lied.

gcochran said at January 31, 2005 6:49 AM:

"The central mystery still remains - why?"

The little countries didn't put much into it. They mostly don't really have intelligence agencies (but do we?) - they took our word for it. I think they're not the mystery.

The real mystery, the real explanation, whatever it is, lies with Bush, Cheney, and Blair. People like Feith are no mystery: he's an Israeli nationalist and wanted us on the ground in the Middle East, fighting Arabs. The mystery is why he was appointed an undersecretary of Defense in _this_ country.

"Why did the checks & balances built into western government fail??"

Well, at least now we know. We have an incompetent government, and for that matter, an incompetent ruling class. Dishonest too, else they'd all be resigning to become fast food workers - but for sure incompetent. I think we already knew this, really: it's not hard to make long lists of loony governmentt decisions.

annabel said at January 31, 2005 7:20 AM:

"Why did the checks & balances built into western government fail??"

no one wants to say the j-word. the evil is...jenova!!!

nah, rilly tho, elephant in the living room. aipac is being investigated by the FBI for espionage...having its files seized and its people subpoena'd...and still the j-word is off limits. so is the i-word.

but as gene expression once said ---

I'm sorry, but ethnicity will and should legitimately be a topic brought up in the ensuing debate. Consider an analogy. Suppose that Wolfowitz, Perle, Shulsky, Feith, Ledeen, and all the rest were South Asian Americans rather than Jewish Americans and had names like Ramachandran, Patel, and Choudhury. Again they'd be selected from a highly educated group that was less than 2% of society (there are about 2 to 3 million South Asian Americans, about 1/2 to 1/3 the number of American Jews depending on how you count). Now suppose they were pushing the US to invade Pakistan, and talking about how the Islamic terrorists killing Indian citizens in Kashmir were the same ones bombing the US on 9/11. Assume that they did this whilst having relatives, extended families, and significant contacts in India. Now, their arguments would not - and should not - be dismissed out of hand. After all, it is probably more accurate to say that Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the ISI are/were more closely involved in Muslim terrorism in Kashmir than they are with anti-Israeli terrorism in Palestine. (As far as I know, Al Qaeda has never directly attacked Israel.) But while their arguments would not be dismissed out of hand, clearly their visible ethnicity would figure into the debate. Plenty of people would take their opinions with a grain of salt, knowing that humans tend to be ethnocentric on the population level if not the individual level. It would be scurrilous to dismiss their arguments simply because they were of Indian ancestry, especially if they were born in America. But it would be foolish to think their ethnicity wasn't impacting any of their arguments, and to rule out mention of their ethnicity as "anti-Subcontinental".

teddy said at January 31, 2005 7:33 AM:

This morning, The Belmont Club links to an interview with Seymour Hersh posted on the Democracy Now web site. Mr. Hersh is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist who currently opines for The New Yorker. We've had other occasions to discuss Mr. Hersh at The New Criterion -- for example, in this note from our June 2004 issue. As that piece shows, Mr. Hersh has always had a difficult time distinguishing between fact and paranoid fantasy. But now the poor fellow seems to have slipped over the edge. As Mr. Wretchard at The Belmont Club observes, Hersh's recent performance is eloquent, "so self-expressive" that it needs no comment.

We took Baghdad easily. It wasn't because be [must have meant "we"] won. We took Baghdad because they pulled back and let us take it and decided to fight a war that had been pre-planned that they're very actively fighting. The frightening thing about it is, we have no intelligence. Maybe it's -- it's -- it is frightening, we have no intelligence about what they're doing. A year-and-a-half ago, we're up against two and three-man teams. We estimated the cells operating against us were two and three people, that we could not penetrate. As of now, we still don't know what's coming next. There are 10, 15-man groups. They have terrific communications. Somebody told me, it's -- somebody in the system, an officer -- and by the way, the good part of it is, more and more people are available to somebody like me.
... the amazing thing is we are been [must meand "have been"] taken over basically by a cult, eight or nine neo-conservatives have somehow grabbed the government. Just how and why and how they did it so efficiently, will have to wait for much later historians and better documentation than we have now, but they managed to overcome the bureaucracy and the Congress, and the press, with the greatest of ease. It does say something about how fragile our Democracy is. You do have to wonder what a Democracy is when it comes down to a few men in the Pentagon and a few men in the White House having their way. What they have done is neutralize the C.I.A. because there were people there inside . . .

I have a friend in the Air Force, a Colonel, who had the awful task of being an urban bombing planner, planning urban bombing, to make urban bombing be as unobtrusive as possible. I think it was three weeks ago today, three weeks ago Sunday after Fallujah I called him at home. I'm one of the people -- I don't call people at work. I call them at home, and he has one of those caller I.D.’s, and he picked up the phone and he said, “Welcome to Stalingrad.”

"Taken over by a cult"? Alas, that pretty much describes what has happened to Seymour Hersch.

Amit Uttam said at January 31, 2005 9:31 AM:

No matter who is right or who is wrong let us look at things this way:

Is Iraq better of with an American invasion or without one?
Are Americans more safer today or before the Iraqi invasion?
What lessons other than reforming intelligence can we take from this?
How do we fight terrorism?

The first question is very much up in the air even thoguh the news from Iraq apart from the election seems to be really bad. We might pull out but will we take the terrorism back home? Will the terrorists spread out and hunt down Americans isolating us as a country from the rest of the world? What about Iraq? Will we have to come back there because it becomes an Afghanistan? I think we are in for the long one here. We won't die because of terrorism but our economy will kill us trying to afford all those military improvements!! The higher interest rates that will come in the next 2 to 3 years will be the end of the American economy.

To the second question I would have to say most defnitely not at least for the next decade!! Islamists are using Iraq as a rallying point to show how right they were and a whole generation of muslim youth is being taken in by their suggestions. Maybe if Iraq stablizes and the economy of arab nations in general betters then we might be able to bring this under control but in the meantime we will loose a lot of people, money and most importantly time to focus on more dire issues like global devlopment.

While this question is not meant to be an attack against anybody...we have to be generally more careful when making the decision to invade another country...duh!!?? Not really that duh!! Perhaps next time we need to take a longer, harder look...unless we have proof that somebody is about to launch an attack, please no more attacks!! Secondly international opinion counts...unilataeralism is a guarrenteed to increase our budget defcit and isolate us from the rest of the world.

So how do we fight terrorism? The Bush Doctrine? How about a more benign approach to terrorism...maybe economic devlopment? This is not just some liberal bs. Seriously look at some of the newest economic discussions that point out that the Asian Tiger model of devlopment was partially made possible by US aid to certain countries and an openess of the US to exports from the region that dosen't show up when talking about the rest of the world!! Our governments foriegn aid budget of less that 10billion dollars is pitiful and we would achieve a lot more spending here than in the war budget not because it is liberal bs but because it is the samrt benign policy of jobs for guns and terrorist intentions. The link of poverty to terrorism is simply too much to ignore, at the least!!

crush41 said at January 31, 2005 11:08 AM:

The link of poverty to terrorism is simply too much to ignore, at the least!!

The terrorists groups are further from poverty than many Americans. And we gave them plenty of "economic relief" in the form of tsunami aid. Good thing the donations are still flowing in--I can't wait to see them come back to us in the form of a dirty bomb.

gcochran--Obviously I don't have anywhere near the knowledge you do to argue with you, but what about the activities of Zarqawi. Do you believe that he was treated in a military hospital under Saddam after fighting the US but before there was a threat of US action in Iraq is of no consequence at all?

Invisible Scientist said at January 31, 2005 11:18 AM:

Here is one reason why Bush might attack Iran: Previously, I was pessimitically predicting that Iraq will
be a second Viet Nam and that it will be simply too costly to control. But now, given the fact that we are
intentionally keeping Saddam Hussein alive in jail, we can threaten the Shia and other anti-Saddam groups, which
happen to be the clear majority, and this way we can threaten and force them to bring order to their country
by themselves OR ELSE we are leaving and letting Saddam come back to power!!! This trick might just work. And
if by accident there is some kind of stability (temporarily) in Iraq, then Bush will be emboldened and he will
indeed attack Iran ("to do the same"), but at that time things will get very difficult because the attack on Iran
will reduce our military strength in Iraq, the trouble will resurface in Iraq,
and the resulting chaos in both Iran and Iraq will be impossible to manage after the attack on Iran. This
would be a terrible scenario for the world (although this would be a great scenario for the arms industries.)

gcochran said at January 31, 2005 12:53 PM:

The consensus of US intelligence is that surgical interlude never even happened. Back when they did think so, they thought Zarqawi had had a leg amputated. But now he has two. Either it never happened, he had three before, or it grew back. I go with door number one.

Before some other poor schmuck bothers to bring it up, let's talk about the Laurie Mylroie theory that one of the 9-11 planners was really a Iraqi Mukhabarat agent that had assumed a Kuwati's identity, using documents grabbed in the invasion of Kuwait. To be exact, a Kuwait originally from Baluchistan.

Sounded odd to me, since we knew that the guy in question was working with his childhood friend, who you'd think might have noticed the switch, life not being a soap opera. Turned out that the guy had attended a British private school, which had his childhood fingerprints on file. James Woolsey, that moron, flew to Wales to check the fingerprints: oddly enough, current fingerprints matched childhood fingrerprints. To me that means that there was no switch, means that the theory is horseshit like everything else we hear out of the Administration and its flacks.

To sum it all up, Saddam was keeping his nose clean because he was scared of us. And also he was broke, and in general hostile to the kind of crazed relgious fanatics that were actually spoiling for a fight with the US. The State Department, back in early 2001, had Iraq way down the list of unfriendly countries: they were't doing anything. That evaluation was common sense: anbody who knew the score agreed with it. And nothing changed in their side, except for a certain increase in entropy. All thre stuff about the Iraqi Peril, about Saddam lusting for a chance to go kamikaze, about his backing of anti-US terrorism, was false. It was fairly obvious at the time if you read the paper.

Derek Copold said at January 31, 2005 2:38 PM:

Only an invincibly ignorant fool would try to argue that the Bush Adminstration didn't lie us into this stupid war...

...and so he has.

Amit Uttam said at January 31, 2005 4:02 PM:

On crush41's comments
-"Tsunami aid to terrorists": Most of the Tsunami money went to feed, cloth and provide medicine and health care for the disaster victims. It did not buy Tsunami victims rockets, stingers etc. That is a well documented fact!! Unless you are a bigot you would not further the argument that all non-Americans are terrorists.
-"Terrorists richer than Americans": My idea was to point to the fact that we should aid devloping countries not aid terrorists. However I think you make no distinction between the two. So I suppose it is pointless arguing with a paranoid person who thinks the whole world is out to blow them up.

FriendlyFire said at January 31, 2005 4:20 PM:

The terrorists groups are further from poverty than many Americans. And we gave them plenty of "economic relief" in the form of tsunami aid. Good thing the donations are still flowing in--I can't wait to see them come back to us in the form of a dirty bomb.

yes How stupid of us considering how Pakistain manage to aquire it nuclear capabilities ?
With all that money flowing into Afganistain supporting "freedom fighters" like our friend and ally Osama. Without accountability and responsibility upwards of 30% of the massive amounts of money was "stolen" and diverted into Pakistains Nuclear program.

The key word here is accountability and responsibility.

FriendlyFire said at January 31, 2005 4:43 PM:

The US-led provisional government in charge of Iraq was unable to properly account for nearly $US9billion in Iraqi funds it was charged with safeguarding, a scathing audit report reveals.

The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) may have paid salaries for thousands of non-existent "ghost employees" in Iraqi ministries, issued unauthorised multimillion-dollar contracts, and provided little oversight of spending in possibly corrupt ministries, according to the report by Stuart Bowen, the special inspector-general for Iraq reconstruction.

The audit report adds to a growing body of evidence that the US-led occupation government created a two-tier system of oversight that continues to severely hamper the rebuilding of Iraq.

What a suprise rampant corruption. Dosnt this ring alarm bells ???

Stephen said at January 31, 2005 6:07 PM:

gcochran, this just doesn't ring true:
"Turned out that the guy had attended a British private school, which had his childhood fingerprints on file. James Woolsey, that moron, flew to Wales to check the fingerprints: oddly enough, current fingerprints matched childhood fingrerprints."

I can't see any UK public school taking student fingerprints. Even UK govt. schools wouldn't do it. A brief google search didn't find any indication that its done, except for an unfortunate incident where a company was flogging school library systems that used a fingerprint instead of a card.

gcochran said at January 31, 2005 6:42 PM:

I somewhat messed up. The story relates to the _first_ attempt, the 19993 bombing of the world tradec center, although Mylroie extends it much further. . Mylroie's theory was that the mastermind of the 1993 plot, a man generally known by one of his many aliases, "Ramzi Yousef," was an Iraqi intelligence agent who some time after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 assumed the identity of a Pakistani named Abdul Basit whose family lived there.

Now the guy who who supposedly assumed Basit's identity is the one who went to school (electrical engineering) in England (I had that backwards) : Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy defence secretary, sent James Woolsey, a former CIA director, to Swansea, in south Wales, in search of evidence to back up the theory that Ramzi Youssef, convicted of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre, was the same person as an Iraqi student who had been at the University of Wales in Swansea. Woolsey returned empty-handed. "The two sets of fingerprints were entirely different," says a source familiar with the investigation.

Mylroie sticks to her theory, even though there is no evidence for it, even though our occupation of Iraq has unearthed nothing to support it it. She thinks that Al-Qaeda was a front for Iraqi intelligence, that they engineered Khobar Towers and the bombing of the Cole. And TWA-800. Oh, and they did the anthrax attacks also - although the FBi doesn't think so. In fact, no professinal law enforcement or intelligence agency agrees with any of her conclusions.

She's the only person at AEI who ever had anything to do with the Middle East: there is reason to suspect that a lot of people there take her word as gospel, or at least did in the past. Cheney seems to believe her. Of course, now, her take is that the entire US governemnt is in the grip of some conspiracy that forbids them to reveal facts that would actually tremendously strengthen the Administrations's case for invading Iraq. Perhaps they mean to test our faith, ujsut as God created fossils.

Back on the topic of the central mystery: 'why? ' - Laurie Mylroie may have been part of it. If so, the whole thing looks more and more like the McMartin preschool case, which was originated by a drunken crazy lady, who had previusly complained that a Marine had sodomized her dog. Which was untrue, by the way.

Steve Sailer said at February 1, 2005 3:32 AM:

If anybody has any clue who the War Nerd is, let me know at SteveSlr@aol.com . I've never found any evidence that Gary Brecher really exists, but I've gone back to the theory that he is pretty much who he says he is, just with some exaggerations and falsehoods to protect his privacy, but I could be wrong. Whoever he is, he might be the best raw writing talent to emerge from the whole post-9/11 Internet era.


Randall Parker said at February 1, 2005 10:44 AM:

The important question is raised on how Pakistan got the money to develop nuclear weapons. I've read an answer on this though I do not know if it is true. See my post Former DIA Analyst: Saudi Arabia Bankrolled Pak Nukes.

But let us return to the topic of this post: Will Bush manage to do either a full invasion or air strikes against Iran? I don't know. My guess is his odds of pulling off a ground invasion are pretty low, maybe 1 in 10. But what about air strikes? If he could pull them off without Congressional approval then my guess is the probability of air strikes go up to about .6 or .7.

Can Bush carry out air strikes in Iran without Congressional approval?

So Very Bitter said at February 1, 2005 11:10 AM:

Randall, I am personally not so sure: could having a president perceived as unhinged be a bonus in that part of the world?

Randall Parker said at February 1, 2005 3:07 PM:

So Very Bitter,

I doubt Bush is considered by the Arabs as unhinged. They probably think he is carrying out some calculated plan for oil companies, Jews, or a Christian cabal.

crush41 said at February 1, 2005 6:32 PM:

-"Tsunami aid to terrorists": Most of the Tsunami money went to feed, cloth and provide medicine and health care for the disaster victims. It did not buy Tsunami victims rockets, stingers etc. That is a well documented fact!! Unless you are a bigot you would not further the argument that all non-Americans are terrorists.

First off, I'm not a bigot but I am both ignorant and impressionable. I blame most of it on age, though I visit sources like this as a means of filling the void. The questions/comments I personally raise are seemingly reasonable concerns/viewpoints I've come across or that, tenatively, I have personally developed as a means of clarifying someone else's thoughts or opinions. Please don't take umbrage, just correct me. Giving money was the correct move, and the private donations have been tremendous. That being said, I'm sure you've seen the now famous photograph of American soldiers carrying out a victim with a man wearing an Osama bin Laden t-shirt watching the procession nonchalantly. Inevitably, some of it will be used to dig an American grave.

Friendly Fire--Were we aware bin Laden would become an enemy? Stalin was (and will presumably go down in history as) a larger threat to humanity than bin Laden will ever be able to boast. That stream of logic puts guilt on Klara Hitler for giving birth to her son... okay, maybe it falls somewhere in between the two, but this could come back right away.

-"Terrorists richer than Americans": My idea was to point to the fact that we should aid devloping countries not aid terrorists. However I think you make no distinction between the two. So I suppose it is pointless arguing with a paranoid person who thinks the whole world is out to blow them up.

I recall the etymology of the phrase "chip on my shoulder" having something to do with challenging those who would harm you and your honor. If it's knocked off, you lose. Historically, doling out money to nations that do not sure amity with us has not paid much in the way of dividends.

Randall Parker said at February 2, 2005 11:30 AM:

Again, the problem with the poverty argument is that most of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudis and none were Bangladeshis. The Bangladeshis are much poorer. Also, there are plenty of countries with per capita GDPs similar to Saudi Arabai that do not produce terrorists.

The argument about poverty is a very Marxist argument that holds that all major dissatisfactions are due to poverty and economic oppression. The problem with the argument is that it is wrong.

Stephen said at February 2, 2005 9:26 PM:

Randall, I don't think that Marx was talking about poverty, but agree that he was talking about the broader concept of economic oppression - all that stuff about alienation that he banged on about. Coincidentally, I've been pondering on events in terms of Marxism, and I think that Marx would recognise what is happening as some form of revolutionary class struggle against alienation.

The classes in conflict in the middle east obviously aren't the Marxist landed class and the urban worker of 19th century Europe, but I think the indigenous sides in the middle east are nevertheless capable of being allocated into consistant and distinct classes. As to what criteria define those classes, well I've not yet managed to figure that out. Though one of the criteria would certainly be "inheritance (in terms of social position and the right to rule)".

So Very Bitter said at February 3, 2005 7:34 AM:

Randall: "I doubt Bush is considered by the Arabs as unhinged. They probably think he is carrying out some calculated plan for oil companies, Jews, or a Christian cabal."

--That is a good point. Madnesses run ramplant there, but when they are manidested in consporacy theories they can be very rigid madnesses.

Randall Parker said at February 3, 2005 10:33 AM:


Very rigid madnesses? Not exactly. The weird thing about their conspiracy theorizing is that they generate new conspiracy ideas like mad. Lots of the conspiracy ideas contradict each other. They can handle thinking very contradictory thoughts.

People want to think they understand the world. The truth can be subtle and hard to tease out. So people either less bright or less knowledgeable or simply not very analytical generate all sorts of false explanations. Though the styles of those explanations vary quite a bit.

I'd love to see a study of Middle Eastern conspiracy theories that tried to quantity the relative percentages of various types of conspiracy beliefs. Do they come up with more ideas for domestic events than for foreign events or vice versa? Which governments and ethnic groups show up most often in conspiracies? Which groups are portrayed as malevolent or as dups or as victims and at what frequencies? What are the trends for all of the above?

Jack Onory said at February 3, 2005 7:30 PM:

As Randall points out the post 911 conspiracy theories industry seem to have taken off.
More worryingly is the amount of disinformation being fed by western media (and being fed to media sources from US govt and millitary sources, it seems, to serve political purposes and personal agendas.) It is very pervasive and anyone in the English speaking world has (mostly sun-consciously) absorbed so much of it in recent years conditioning them to an anti- Arab, anti-Muslim, Islam=terrorist mindset; they would need to have made conscious attempts to 'seach for the truth' to address it.

However back to the subject at hand:
Why wouldn't the US admin 'allow' Israeli airstrikes on Irans nuclear facilities.
If the Israeli airforce have the range to do it (and get home safely) I'm sure its a strategy that is being very well planned for.
Being the ones who are the supposed target of the nuclear weapons as we are lead to believe (ie: Israel the victim.........cue another Holocaust movie and memorial!) and in an effort to lead attention away from their own program of 'strategic ambiguity' there is reasonable grounds to expect this to happen. They have the millitary capacity (and now with added US asssitance and cover) and have proven in the past they have the ability and will to execute (Iraq 1987 wasn't it)
This would appear to be a more likley scenario and practical based (much unlike the buffoons who planned and Iraqi invasion for 10 years and thought everything would be OK once they pulled down the Saddaam statue and sold a few McDonalds franchises).

Lurker said at February 5, 2005 6:11 PM:

In September 2004 the US announced the sale of 5000 high-tech bombs, including 500 "bunker-buster" bombs, to Israel. The Israelies aren't going to use them against the Palestinians. Food for thought.

corbetti said at March 27, 2005 9:31 PM:

Did anyone else notice that the War Nerd posted a column about a week ago on Iran, but it disappeared after 12 hours and then, after a week of silence, a new article (Lebanon part II) took its place..? I was half way through reading the Iran column at work (it was HARSH) and then closed my laptop, came home to log back into the War Nerd, and the article no longer existed.


That was weird...

Pellies said at August 19, 2005 12:35 AM:

What's with the censoship?

thegolfballer said at October 13, 2005 12:56 PM:

OK YOU ALL MUST BE VERY BORED TO WRITE THESE DAMN COMMENTS. i mean holy shit do something in your life besides slave away on your computer and waste your life away. Whatever you might think sounds clever, it won't change what bush is going to do. so just stop wasting your time and go on a nice walk, pet your cat/dog, enjoy a nice meal with your spouse, just go do something else!

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