Re: Can't We Make This Stop?

1

Iran isn't a goddamn emergency. They aren't attacking us. We have time to decide if we want to attack them

WMD bitches!

It's the song that never ends
it goes on an on, my friends...


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 4:13 PM
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Okay, but I'm not the sharpest tack in the drawer, and I can see this one playing out. Can't we get an anti-war push organized now? Congress, what the hell, even demonstrations. With big fucking puppets. I just want some discussion of whether we're going to do this before we've already effectively done it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 4:19 PM
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I can't imagine us attacking Iran. It would be insane. But, then, I said the same thing about Iraq, for the same reason.

There really is nothing to be done if more than half of the country is actually crazy. And if that's not true, the Republicans will know it, and they won't allow an attack on Iran.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 4:26 PM
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Ever since about March I've bwwn convinced that Bush would try to upset the election applecart by arranging a security crisis not too long before the election. Seemingly about Oct. 15 would be the best time, for him, for things to get really hot.

I thought that the Democrats should have been pre-positioning themselves to resist, and should have been shooting down the trial balloons (not necessarily from government officials) that have been going up once or twice a week all along. They didn't, and I became depressed and even more surly than usual.

I really think that something like that is Bush's only chance. If he loses Congress, investigations will gut his administration, and the Republicans will be in bad shape for 2008.

I really believe that something will happen unless there's a mini-coup within the military refusing to take orders, or possibly if a few key Republicans finally denounce Bush and call for impeachment. Neither is at all likely.

I think that it's about 75% likely that he will try something, and 50% likely that he will succeed politically. It's not a gimme for him because he's burned so much credibility.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 4:28 PM
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"I can't imagine us attacking Iran. It would be insane. "

The English Foreign Secretary got fired for saying that very same thing.


Posted by: dave heasman` | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 4:28 PM
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Can we just come out openly with the truth: Bush (the evangelical) has decided to engage the jihad. It's holy war against Islam, and all Muslims are our enemies. Indonesia, you're next! (Unless you convert.) We'll see whose God is stronger, once and for all.

Like the crusades, only with nuclear weapons. I love it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 4:29 PM
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2:Puppets!!!


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 4:31 PM
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4:No. Bush really really wants to. It is no longer about domestic politics. It is his mission. I will go look for the link that explains this.

But Bush, not the OVP, is driving this time.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 4:34 PM
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8: Firedoglake quoting the Colonel Gardiner paper


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 4:37 PM
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I cannot believe we are this insane.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 4:50 PM
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6 should have said: 85% joking. But I wish it were 99.999% joking. Honestly, the fact that I'm only 85% confident this is a joke is fucking terrifying.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 4:52 PM
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Do we really think the public will support another war?

Oh, who am I kidding.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 4:53 PM
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The nuketalk has to be a joke, or else a way to make conventional military action appear to be the reasonable option. ('Some wanted us to nuke Iran, but Bush is a man of reasoned principle.')


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 4:54 PM
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14

Just as a question, what circumstances would, in the opinions of those here, justify an airstrike on Iranian nuclear facilities.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 4:56 PM
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The thing is, I'm worried that there won't be a choice -- that something dramatic will happen right before the elections and the Republicans will hope for the "Oh shit, scariness -- better vote Republican" effect. And then even whether or not there's real support (I can't imagine there is) for an attack on Iran that lasts for more than a week or so, they're still in office through 2008.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 4:56 PM
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14: Actual aggression on the part of Iran, for one. Rhetoric's cheap.

More to the point, I'm worried that we don't have a long-term strategy for dealing with an Islamic (or anyone else who dislikes us) bomb. It can't be simply our policy that when anyone we don't like gets close, we bomb their program back ten years.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:00 PM
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14- some other western countries pushing for it and carrying it out, without US pressure to do so.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:01 PM
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14: In the absence of any indication that they are about to attack us, none.

But the point of my post is that IN THE ABSENCE OF AN EMERGENCY, WHICH THIS ISN'T, BUSH DOESN'T GET TO UNILATERALLY DECIDE IT'S A GOOD IDEA. IT'S WAR. CONGRESS HAS THE CONSTITUTIONAL POWER TO DECIDE WHETHER WE GO TO WAR. AND HAS THE POWER TO DECIDE IT BEFORE, RATHER THAN AFTER, WE DO IT.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:02 PM
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While Bush is in power, nothing would. I'm not kidding. He's lied so many times, and fucked up so many times, and he's been so ruthless about bending an international crisis to partisan purposes, that I could never support him.

It's an empty question, because nuclear wars trump consent. He doesn't need any participants except the military, and he has massive powers to suppress dissent and unrest.

If I believed at this point that Iran was near production with nuclear ICBMs, I'd have to rethink, but no one claims that. If Bush started claiming it now, he'd just be lying again.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:02 PM
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I think there's a good chance he'll try something, but not involving ground troops outside of some Special Operations. It'll be airstrikes and/or cruise missiles. The real question is are they going stay conventional, or try a "tactical" nuke.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:03 PM
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19 to 14


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:03 PM
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14: I don't see what that has to do with anything.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:04 PM
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Ok, anything short of violence towards US interests explictly sponsored by Iran? What if your favorite democrat gets elected in 2008, and then says the following:
1. Negotiations/sanctions do not seem to be effective
2. An airstrike will set back the Iranian nuclear program 10 years
3. This airstrike is likely to injure/kill under 100 civilians
4. 1-5 American pilots are likely to die in this airstrike.

In the stipulated case, would people think this airstrike a good idea, or a bad idea?


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:05 PM
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"CONGRESS HAS THE CONSTITUTIONAL POWER TO DECIDE WHETHER WE GO TO WAR. "

I sympathize entirely, but what millenium are you living in? And who runs Congress now?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:06 PM
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While agreeing with Cala's reasons why such an attack isn't currently just, I also think 14 is a mistaken question. Because there are reasons other than its inherent justice that bombing Iranian nuclear facilities would be a bad idea.

To be clear on my position, if the only options are that Iran gains nuclear weapons or that the United States military attacks Iran, with no other changes to our current strategic situtation (we still have a large presence in Iraq), I would choose Iran gains nuclear weapons. Garbage about Iran not being subject to deterrence because they don't care about their country being destroyed is in fact garbage.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:06 PM
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23: Bad idea. No doubt about it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:07 PM
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16- is missile defense become technologically feasible? that seems like a good solution, if it could actually work (instead of just waste money). But I think it's still al ong way off.

But I actually think 'foreign-country-launching bomb' is relatively far less likely than bad-individuals detonating one domestically. Which obviously missile defense wouldn't help with.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:07 PM
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baa, do you advocate an air strike on Iran's nuclear facilities?


Posted by: standpipe b | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:08 PM
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23: I would suspect my favorite Democrat of lying like a Republican, and get a new favorite democrat.

We're getting into thought-experiment territory. No actual situation that clearly defined will ever come up. You have to be willing to accept major consequences.

D or R, if the leadership decides on nuclear war, they won't ask the public for permission. There's functionally no reason why they need to.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:09 PM
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LB is scary when she uses all caps.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:09 PM
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23: Bad idea. You've left out a host of issues: when will they get the bomb, at what rate can they produce them, what is their delivery method, why don't the nuclear powers that surround them care, etc.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:10 PM
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baa, if the Democrat guy in 08 is ramping up a threat that at best is five years away and likely is fifteen years away shortly before he needs to get his party re-elected while our army is mired in a mess of his own making in Iraq, I'll be calling him an idiot, too.

Because I don't buy for a minute that this rumbling about Iran is about anything except tossing red meat to the base and playing to the perceived strengths of the party in an election year.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:12 PM
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1. Iran has perfectly good reasons for developing nukes.

2. If someone wants to make a case for bombing Iran, they need to make a case for why Pakistan and North Korea get a pass but Iran does not.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:12 PM
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23: What if I threw in a brand new toaster? Now what would you pay?


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:12 PM
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Someday someone who isn't comparing Ahmadinejad to Hitler will tell my why it's such a big deal for Iran to get nukes.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:12 PM
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Anyone want to bite at 17? I was being serious. If the EU unanimously decided to launch airstrikes against Iran because they were very worried about the situation there, I don't think I'd be upset about it. (I mean, I'd be upset in the 'damn-what-a-shitty-world-this-is' sense, but not in the 'what-an-asinine-thing-to-do' sense.) Is this wrong?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:13 PM
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33.2 is wrong.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:15 PM
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37: Elaborate.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:18 PM
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35: It will make our stomping around in the Mideast in cowboy boots a bit harder. That's not so much an argument as it is just an observation (and probably the reason Iran wants nukes. It is a sane thing for a country to want to be able to be taken seriously militarily.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:19 PM
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And why WD? What is so pressing about Iran getting nukes? Why them and not North Korea and Pakistan?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:19 PM
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23:

5. the airstrike will generate fallout of ponies for all the little Iranian boys and girls.

Look, baa, when I say I oppose something because I think it's a bad idea, it's idiotic to ask whether I'd support it if it magically happened to be a good idea. It isn't, and I don't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:21 PM
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36: No, it's not wrong, if they could win it without plunging the region into chaos. I have doubts about that, and I suspect the EU does, too.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:21 PM
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36:The EU doesn't have 130k troops in Iraq. My #1 concern is the repercussions. I have trouble predicting them.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:21 PM
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LB, neil, I understand my questions aren't to the point of the post. But I was -- and remain -- genuinely curious about what people here think about the airstrike option opposed from the (very understandable) distrust for the Bush administration and concern for proper democratic process.

As to SB's 28, at the moment, no. It seems like there is lots of time and many options to be tried before considering that quote. I am close to, but not exactly at washerdreyer's position.

Ogged, I think the idea is basically that Iran does lots of things that are hostile to US interests now -- like supporting Sadr in Iraq -- and that having nuclear weapons is unlikely to make the Iranian regime more interested in playing nice with the US. That does not mean that we should bear any burden (or inflict any damage) to prevent it, but simply that preventing it is ceteris paribus desirable. What I am really trying to figure out here is what cost people are willing to bear.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:23 PM
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it's idiotic to ask whether I'd support it if it magically happened to be a good idea

To be fair, I think baa is just trying to figure out what someone's conditions or reasons for opposition are.

That said, if anyone bombs Iran, I'm holding baa personally responsible.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:24 PM
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baa, I'll answer your question if you answer my question: what circumstances would, in your opinion, justify a military coup against George W. Bush. Bidding starts at 'imminent use of nuclear weapons against a target in the U.S.'


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:25 PM
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Wait, I don't think there are sufficient reasons to attack any of the three countries, but it could be the case that the argument for attacking Iran was equally applicable to NK and Pakistan and that we should nevertheless only attack Iran for reasons outside of that argument, or it could be (but it certainly fucking isn't) that it would genuinely be a good thing to attack all three, in which case you shoulnd't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:26 PM
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46: Use of weapons by Bush, I mean.


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:28 PM
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You can substitute 'mutiny' for 'coup' if you like.


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:29 PM
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46: Bush engaging in nekkid jello-wrasslin' while presenting the State of the Union.


Posted by: Stub | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:30 PM
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That might change my vote.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:32 PM
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Christ, Stub, would that be so much worse than this?


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:32 PM
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23: I would not support them. I have seen zero evidence that Iran is anything like frighteningly close to having nukes, and guess what? That doesn't really work as a rationalization anyway because there are already people who may be far more dangerous who may have nukes. It wouldn't be about the fear of magical, potential nukes, you see, or the Korean peninsula would already look like discarded scenes from On The Beach. So no matter who says it, it doesn't hold water, especially the heavy kind.

Games of 'what if' are absurd, anyway. What if they drop ponies on them, and the Iranians all convert to Southern Baptism because, hey, ponies?

What if my favorite Democrat suggests bombing Iran with gay marriage bombs? I mean, I'm for gay marriage, right?

What if my favorite Democrat turns out to be Santa, and shows me pictures of all the elves who drowned in the filming of The Day After Tomorrow, and I feel really sorry for him so I don't notice that he's bombing Iran?

What I find so fascinating about Bush's foreign policy choices is that they're largely about revenge. He seems to really think it's a good idea to shape all foreign policy around going from nation to nation and trying to get them back for any slights he feels we suffered at their hands in the 20th century. I'm reminded of the line from Denis Leary, years ago: "Make a couple of stops on our way home from the Persian Gulf. First stop! Vietnam! Surprise the fuck out of those people, huh?"


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:33 PM
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Dude, admit it. You'd be for bombing Iran with gay marriage bombs.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:34 PM
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Damn, pony-pwned and NK-pwned.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:36 PM
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Really LB, 41 was a bit beneath you.

Matt, an attempt to cancel an election would do it for me regardless of party. However, I am willing to let any GOP president make 1 horse a senator.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:36 PM
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54: OK, maybe, but only if I get to push the buttons.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:38 PM
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58

I really do think it's a dumb question (though a stimulating one). I could go on for hours listing counterfactual situations under which I would support airstrikes on Iran's nuclear facilities.

* Iran's nuclear facilities are staffed by Martians who are secretly building a death-ray to bring Earth to its knees
* There are thousands of children suffocating to death inside Iran's nuclear facilities and the only way to break them out is with bombs
* Ahmedinijad is actually Hitler wearing a cheesy rubber mask, he will use nuclear weapons to wreak vengeance on Poland
* Iran's nuclear facilities are filled with the essence of human joy, and if we release it into the air, humanity will enter an age of bliss

And so forth. But I don't think you wanted ridiculous counterfactuals; I think you want us to skew close to existing reality by inventing a plausible counterfactual. And if it's plausible then there must be some doubt as to whether the counterfactual is so counter after all...

I don't mean that you're trying to use NLP to manipulate us all into becoming warhawks, but it is somewhat of a loaded question. Or rather, a slippery way to say "Try to convince yourself that bombing Iran is a good idea, and let me know how it goes."


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:38 PM
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Is that all? What about the nuclear weapon use on US soil, in between elections?


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:38 PM
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52: True, that was sketchtacular, but my real issue in the scenario I present would be the wreckless mixing of the sacred (nekkid jello-wrasslin') and the profane (State of the Union).


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:38 PM
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The thing about a military coup being justified by a canceled election is that military coups have historically not been so good at restoring democracy, even when that's their stated goal. I think just fighting the "canceled" election through peaceful political means would be far preferable to a coup.

If we bomb Iran or have a military coup, it's baa's fault.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:38 PM
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I could also ask the question, what if they refuse to count the votes in the election?


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:42 PM
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56: No, it wasn't. You're responding to a real world concern about something that may be happening now, and asking about how we'd feel about something else with no resemblance to it whatsoever. Either you're changing the subject, in which case go away and find someone else to bother, or you're leading up to some point.

Any chance you'd like to share your point with us and spare us the bullshit Socratic method?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:42 PM
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Oh, and precisely to 58. "Well, you thought it would be a good idea under these circumstances -- is this really so different?"

Honestly, baa.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:45 PM
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65

So let's say tomorrow the Chinese leadership issues a public statement saying that if anyone wants to bomb the fuck out of North Korea, they'll be willing to look the other way for the next 36 hours or so. What happens next?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:47 PM
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So anyway, in this proposed coup, does it have to be military-led? What about a Mineshaft junta? I think there'd be a lot of popular support for a regime that placed the cock joke at the center of its foreign policy agenda.


Posted by: Stub | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:48 PM
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64, I haven't been here that long so I didn't want to outwardly accuse baa of preparing to whip out that sort of bwaa-haa-haa, especially after he said he doesn't support air strikes either. But I do think it's a loaded question and not the same as asking 'why don't you support airstrikes now?'.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:48 PM
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40: Why them and not Israel?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:50 PM
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Items like 23 usually occur in warspeak not so much as "counterfactuals" but as "this is what's really being proposed, is it so bad? You wouldn't be squawking if it was a Democrat doing it."

Question to baa: did you by any chance support an attack on Iraq in the belif that Saddam was building a frightening arsenal of "WMD's," that negotiation and sanctions were hopeless, that the war would be virtually bloodless and that Iraq would pay for its own reconstruction as a model democracy? If the answer is "yes," how did that work out? And why would you expect an attack on Iran to work out any better?


Posted by: Doctor Slack | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:50 PM
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65: It's my impression that from the administration perspective the major obstacle to action against North Korea would be the subsequent end of Seoul (and the US troops stationed there), regardless of Chinese sentiment.


Posted by: Stub | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:51 PM
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There are no real-world conditions under which I'd support an airstrike on Iran's nuclear facilities. It's madness, and the only proper response would be to see Bush administrations tried in the Hague and hanged (not that that would ever happen). I had a sick feeling that the roller coaster may already have left the station on this one, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:53 PM
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My answer to my own "What happens next?" is that North Korea assumes that we are going to attack and preemptively attacks Seoul.

Also, these are some pretty strong and undeserved allegations of bad faith being tossed around here.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:54 PM
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71: What if the cast of MTV's real world were stationed at the Iranian nuclear facilties?


Posted by: Stub | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:54 PM
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"administrations" s/b "administration officials"


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:54 PM
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And now we have Musharraf saying that our government [via Richard "Loose Lips" Armitage] threatened to bomb Pakistan "back to the Stone Age" if it did not cooperate with the US.

I would not be surprised to discover we were already massing troops in preparation of invading Iran. Too few troops, with inferior body armour and transport and not a chance in hell of succeeding, but Dubya can declare "Mission Accomplished" on election day eve and hope that no one notices how long his nose has become.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:56 PM
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re: 59 Sorry, you want an exhaustive list of all reasons one might 'mutiny' or support a coup d'etat? I guess I'm not sure what that's in aid of, Matt. I can think of lots of them. And they wouldn't differ at all for it being Bush or Ralph Nader.

re: 58 Neil, I guess I think there's a difference between "the airstrikes would be effective in accomplishing the goal of eliminating the Iranian program without absolutely terrible cost" and "failure to strike would cause an evil demon to destroy the universe." It's a reasonable position to say "I don't see a problem with a nuclear Iran." It's likewise a reasonable position to say "I see a problem, but it doesn't seem to warrant costs and risks beyond X" (where X can be: a single human life). It's double-dog reasonable to say "I don't see reason to bomb anything until the threat is a lot more imminent than it is now." But these are all different reasons. With Bush in power, left-of-center opposition to the use of force is overdetermined. But I want to understand better the where smart left-of-center folks come out on the actual policy issue, and this is a place where smart left-of-center folks hang out.

LB: There is no hidden agenda. I am not trying to secretly win support for a neocon agenda of conquest. One purpose of of hypotheticals is to understand why people hold the positions they do. As the hypothetical has illuminated 5-odd different positions, it worked to a large degree. At least, it helped me to understand people's positions better. I am really not sure what it is in my posts that is provoking this tone and reaction from you.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:56 PM
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I don't think Baa's requests are all that unreasonable, but there are still problems

Re: 23

You need to do some more stipulating before I even more the suggestion out of the "batshit insane" box. First you need to stipulate that the Iranians are within five years of developing the bomb (they are what, 10-15 years away now?) Second, you need to stipulate that Ahmadinejad is more likely to use nuclear weapons than Bush himself. (If we are afraid of nuclear terrorism, we should first clean our own house.) Third, you need to stipulate that moderate elements have no chance of succeeding in Iran's quasi democratic process.

That's a lot of stipulating. Maybe you should stick to ponies.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:58 PM
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I really don't understand the hostility to baa's question. Under what circumstances would you support airstrikes on Iran? You might answer "none", although I'm likely to believe you are dismissing the question without giving it a lot of thought (though perhaps not). But it doesn't seem like an unreasonable question at all, and doesn't really seem like an attempt to bait anyone into somehow supporting an attack in the here-and-now.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 5:58 PM
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78 pwned like 5 times over. Oh well.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:00 PM
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to 40, 68

Also, why them and not the United States?

I have difficulty trusting anyone with nuclear weapons.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:02 PM
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23: Hypotheticals always seem to have the effect, and often the intent, of "softening up" people for something they're very reluctant to do. First you get someone to admit that there's at least one circumstance when you'll do something terrible, and then you start working them -- OK, why not in this case?

These hypotheticals also usually allege neat and tidy information about cost-benefit ratios that is never found in real life, especially in warfare.

And they tend to assume act utilitarianism, with the effect of forcing people who have strong scruples to admit to irrationality.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:04 PM
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Sorry, you want an exhaustive list of all reasons one might 'mutiny' or support a coup d'etat? I guess I'm not sure what that's in aid of, Matt.

Hey, I asked you a direct question that you haven't answered. Now maybe you understand why you're not getting a list of reasons when it'd be OK to attack Iran. Thanks for trolling.

Brock, I think we're as justified in hostility to his question as he is justified in hostility to mine.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:04 PM
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Ooh, I can answer why the United States shouldn't bomb the United States to prevent the United States from using nuclear weapons.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:04 PM
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78: Disagree with, maybe, but don't understand?

76: Howsabout we start from the position that international law forbids aggressive war. In the absence of an attack by Iran on the US, or genuine convincing evidence of an actually imminent in the sense of really being about to happen right now rather than any nonsense of "Oh, we don't know they aren't going to attack us", no, we may not make war on them.

Your conditions about casualties are meaningless -- as if it were possible to know that sort of thing before bombing.

And my reaction was irate because of the meaningless conditions about casualties on both sides. Sure, if we can stipulate that war isn't going to hurt any significant number of people, it's fine and peachy. WE CAN'T STIPULATE THAT BOMBING ANOTHER COUNTRY WON'T HURT PEOPLE.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:06 PM
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82 me of course.

Slack, here's baa in May 2005 still arguing that Saddam would have probably obtained nuclear weapons if not for the war. It doesn't even matter whether he's arguing in good faith, he's unreachable by reason and evidence.


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:06 PM
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Sorry, this is clearer. He's been even more explicit even later.


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:10 PM
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83:I hve to go along with this, but only because the Feebies are listening.

(SDS has started up again. Which way does the wind blow?)


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:11 PM
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84: yes, don't understand. I mean, yes the hypo in 23 was absurd on many levels (is war okay if no one gets hurt?), but the more general question in 14 seems totally reasonable. I'd like to know many of your answers. It's not an easy question.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:12 PM
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I really don't understand the reaction to baa's questions. Come on people, he didn't just drop out of nowhere, and he always asks these kinds of questions to try to figure out what people are thinking; it's not a trick. So 14 was too vague and unhelpful without a lot of existing background agreement, but 23 seems reasonable.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:13 PM
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I guess I should say: like LB, I refuse to interpret this hypothetical except in the context of the actual circumstance we're in.

And as I've been saying for some time now, I feel much more threatened by the Bush regime than I do by all of Islam put together. In terms of sheer destructive power, Bush is the most powerful man in history, he is the virtually-absolute ruler of the country I live in, he has the intention of remaking the world map and remaking the US in ways which I find unacceptable, and he seems capable of almost unlimited ruthlessness and deviousness.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:14 PM
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The juxtaposition in 88/89 is nice.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:15 PM
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The reason I had a hostile reaction to the question is that it actually presupposes quite a lot of things, as baa illuminated somewhat in 76. What it presupposes is that there is a reason to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities.

It's double-dog reasonable to say "I don't see reason to bomb anything until the threat is a lot more imminent than it is now."

In other words, the most reasonable answer to the question is to say "It's a threat, but not enough of one to justify killing people over it, yet." Or else you could say it's more of a threat in various ways. See what I mean about it being a leading question? As 78 pointed out, "none" sounds like a dull answer to the question, but it's a perfectly legitimate one if you don't think _anything_ about the current situation justifies bombing.

It's like asking, Under what circumstances would you become a Krishna devotee?


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:15 PM
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90 is a bit much.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:16 PM
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Armchair war-game-planning always seems wrong to me, because absolutely brutal actions are contemplated in an atmosphere of chat.

Does anyone except McManus remember Herman Kahn? His whole game was making people look bad if they objected to nuking ten million people, and he spent years making up scenarios where a mere ten million dead was a happy ending. "Mad dog rationality", it's called.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:18 PM
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I'm even more hostile to 23 because it promises things it can't deliver. For one thing, I don't see any way that we could get from the world now to the world as described as 23, so my answer to that question would be predicated on me not having a fucking clue what happened in between now and then. Similarly, if bombing Iran could possibly fit the parameters therein, then I guess I have no fucking clue what the effects of bombing a nation are, so what does my opinion matter?


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:20 PM
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35: Given that Iran is already surrounded on every side by American troops, literally the only sane thing they can do is try to get a nuclear deterrent as quickly as possible. The minimal duty of the Iranian government is to ensure that what happened to Iraq does not happen to Iran. If they are in fact obtaining nuclear weapons, that is prima facie evidence that we are dealing with rational actors.

And of course, I was way out ahead of everyone on the Iran issue. I also have come up with the only workable solution to American nuclear aggression.

For the record, no one should've responded to baa, at all. You should've kept talking like he never said anything. No need to engage with someone with his track record on matters of war. No need at all. When the world is consumed in a nuclear holocaust, you will not think to yourself, "God, I wish I'd just engaged more attentively with my opponents on the right!"


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:21 PM
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93: elaborate. I did.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:21 PM
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he always asks these kinds of questions

This is why I have a hostile reaction. Sick of stupid hypotheticals that are designed to trap me in a morally abhorrent position, sick of arguing with someone who won't accept the most basic facts when they disagree with his position (such as: Saddam's lack of nuclear progress).


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:23 PM
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If we're going to go as far outside of reality to discuss what a fictional future US would do about a fictional future Iran in a fictional future situation, I'd rather just scrap the attachment to current events altogether and go into pure theory. I don't see why anybody wouldn't, in fact, unless they were trying to promote certain views on current events.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:23 PM
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This thread's title and content are merging into a seemless whole!


Posted by: Stub | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:24 PM
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The hostility to the question (which is different than hostility to baa) is perhaps better understood if we rephrase it.

What would it take for you to think it's acceptable for me to kill your daughter/niece/mother? What would it take for you to think it's acceptable for me to line up everybody in your neighborhood and kill them? What would it take for you to think it's acceptable for me to destroy your entire town and 1/3 of the residents in the process?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:25 PM
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designed to trap me

Well, I don't see him doing that (I take him to be trying to understand the consensus here) but I don't want to stand in the way of anyone's anger.

So, baa, do you in fact support airstrikes against Iran? Or, to ask my question again, can you tell me why it's even "pretty bad" for Iran to get nukes?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:26 PM
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So apostropher, what would it take for you think it's acceptable for me to line up everybody in your neighborhood and kill them?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:29 PM
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What would it take for you to think it's acceptable for me to destroy your entire town and 1/3 of the residents in the process?

An assurance that I and mine would be unharmed and $10,000,000.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:29 PM
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Also, does anyone doubt that Kotsko, were he to become President, would totally nuke somebody?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:30 PM
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Also, not all military coups have led to indefinite states of emergency -- especially given that we have the strongest democratic tradition currently in existence and that said coup would be intended to prevent the president from exercising indefinite emergency powers, the odds are that the president and probably most of the executive branch would be gotten rid of in some way (forced to resign at gunpoint, let's say), at which point they would step aside and allow normal succession procedures to take place.

Then the coup leaders could submit themselves to legal judgment -- you know, like they say that the torturers in the "ticking time bomb" scenario should do.

But anyway, yeah, France has gone back and forth on democracy the whole time. Not every country is a Latin American banana republic where the CIA periodically sponsors coups. Our client states have really given military dictatorship at bad rap -- think of it more along the lines of the Roman tradition.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:31 PM
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I would not support bombing Iran because:

- They do not present a substantive threat.
- We've got much more immediate problems, almost none of them solved so easily as with war.
- We should finish the wars we've started before we start any new ones.
- I am unable to trust the judgement or motivations of the current President.
- My understanding of the current situation is such that I would immediately suspect the judgement or motivations of any Democrat who made attacking Iran a priority.
- Too many countries, friend and potential foe, have confirmed, assumed or strongly suspected nuclear weapons for an effort at nuclear weapons to be an objective justification for war.
- We, or at least this administration and this generation of war planners, absolutely suck at planning wars.
- It would be illegal and immoral.

What would justify it for me? If they had used nukes already, in aggression, and were threatening to do so again. Then, yes, I would totally support it. I guess I'm one of those people Condi was talking about when she mentioned a mushroom cloud, but right up to that point I cannot conceive of a justification for any sort of military action.

Yes, baa has gotten some harsh reactions. Regardless of his personal intentions or good faith in asking, the scenario he described - so favorable to the idea of such action, it seemed - sounded an awful lot like all the "but what if a bomb were going to go off in 24 hours, would you use torture then" non-arguments being made by the pundit apologists of the great torture non-debate. My own reaction was largely in the shape of my own response to those torture arguments (ie, in that case I guess we'll just hope that Buffy Summers and Jack Bauer can drive KITT into the desert and save the frickin' day, won't we).


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:32 PM
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I think I know where baa's coming from. The Red Sox season turned tragic in August; they're dead in the water, and he's lashing out. I'm despondent about it as well, but my angry fantasies run more along the lines of sweeping, forcible redistribution of wealth. He needs your love, people.

The bomb Iran thing is, of course, total fucking insanity.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:33 PM
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I've always liked the one where the only way I could save the world from a brutal space invasion was to consent to make a series of porno tapes for the aliens, with Hollywood costars of my choosing.

Along with the choice betweensaving 10 viable freeze dried zygotes and a million orgasming mice.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:34 PM
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especially given that we have the strongest democratic tradition currently in existence

To the extent to which this is true, I doubt that it matters.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:34 PM
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105: That's why I can never seek political office -- the temptation to go down as the greatest butcher in history is simply too great. It's a shame, because otherwise I'd be so fucking good at it.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:34 PM
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Kotsko, lay off the Schmitt right fucking now.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:35 PM
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85 / 86 - yeah, some familiar ground there for sure.

93 is right, of course.

Emerson's post should read "Cheney seems capable of almost unlimited ruthlessness and deviousness, in service of which Bush seems capable of almost unlimited numbers of vapid photo-ops and soundbites."


Posted by: Doctor Slack | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:37 PM
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think of it more along the lines of the Roman tradition

And we all know how much Adam loves the Roman tradition.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:39 PM
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The scenario described in #23 concerns what the hypothetical president says, not what the objective case is, right? As I understand it, baa is essentially asking what would you do if a democrat made the same case Bush is going to make about bombing Iran (I'm sure that those 4 talking points would be on the list in any Bush speech justifying the attack). That's a less insidious hypothetical than the claim that those 4 points are, in fact, factually true in this scenario (as it seems several posters are understanding the question).


Posted by: Stub | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:40 PM
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107: Those ticking bomb scenarios do, indeed, piss me off. Did anyone else hear Bill Clinton doing the same thing on NPR this morning? So disappointing.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:40 PM
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Hey, maybe you could use Unfogged as a way of organizing marches -- get other liberal blogs onboard. That would be an awesome distraction from baa's really well-intentioned hypotheticals.

My own hypothetical: Is anyone here willing to get shot dead by the police during a protest? If you want the kind of protest that's actually going to disrupt life, rather than the kind where the nice people voice their opinions in a fenced-off free-speech zone, then police violence is a definite possibility? Are you even willing to spend a night in jail?


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:42 PM
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I've always thought the ticking time bomb scenario was outdated. Wouldn't most time bombs beep nowadays?


Posted by: Stub | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:42 PM
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My second-to-last question mark should be a period.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:43 PM
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I'd be willing to get shot dead, provided it were a clean shot and a quick death and not, say, a gut shot. I'd be willing to do that much sooner than spend a night in jail. The few hours I once had to spend in a holding cell were bad enough.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:45 PM
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a) I go along with LB and Emerson on "preventive" war. "Preemptive" war? You better make a good case.

Baa can change his premises. The Colonel Gardiner pdf linked at FDL in comment 9 describes a probable scenario. IOW, the Air Force does not mess around, and will not face anti-aircraft defense if they can destroy it. So we start with a lot od destruction. 2) The targets are tough, in tough locations. Will need multiple hits. 3) Once you have gone that far, best bet is to "degrade" assets that can be used against you. 4) Might as well attack the regime command and control.

Summation:Major league shitstorm, not Libya surgical strikes.

And as I said, I don't know what assets Iran has after or during an attack? Will Sadr & Hakim and 4 million Shia fight for Iran. Hezbollah still has 900 missiles left. Does it have more? Will the Gulf states & Venezuela oil embargo in sympathy? I really don't know.

baa's premises are not realistic


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:47 PM
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You people are nuts. The intent of baa's question is entirely reasonable. There are lots and lots of conservatives and not-so-conservatives who vote Republican precisely because they think we're too fucking nellie to pull the trigger when necessary. This is hardly news. In fact, it's the single biggest obstacle to Democratic governance. So baa wants to know when we'd pull the trigger, and everyone gets upset.

Let's have a share circle and console ourselves about the fact that our minority status extends infinitely into the future.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:47 PM
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Not now Tim, we're discussing dying during the glorious revolt.


Posted by: Stub | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:48 PM
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SCMTim, when would it be acceptable for Iran to nuke the United States?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:49 PM
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Matt, if you feel that way, don't argue with me. Incidentally I did answer your question. I would support a coup against a president who suspended elections. I would support a coup against a president who threatened his political enemies with violence. What this has to do with anything I don't quite know. On the merits of your response, I find your resistance to hypotheticals baffling. You're not going to be 'trapped' into anything. My goal is not to say "aha, Bush is the winner!" and leave the field in triumph. I find this response to the posing of a hypothetical *really weird* from someone who has graduate training in philosophy.

As to LB's "we can't stipulate that bombing another country won't hurt people" (all caps removed, because ick). I so agree! Which is why I didn't stipulate that. Hey to me, under 100 is still a *lot* of innocent people! Believe it or not, it is useful and interesting to me (honestly) to know that LB wants to start with the idea that international law prevents aggressive war. Right, one would want to start there, but one might not want to end there. For example, I think (certain) humanitarian emergencies might trump. I also think (certain) strategic considerations might trump. LB -- I am guessing -- probably agrees on part one and disagrees on part two. Another time, I might try to clarify my understanding of her position with a hypothetical (dark organ chords!). Not so much now, I think.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:50 PM
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Since I'm not running for office, I see no reason to accept a question where the premise is that the trigger should eventually be pulled.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:51 PM
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baa, the first precondition for pulling the trigger, for me, at this time, is getting away with it. I'd need massive support from the world community, particularly regional support (and particularly nuclear power regional support). I'd need to believe that Middle East wasn't currently in chaos, and that attacking Iran wouldn't lead to regional, or even widespread country chaos. Since I don't think Iran's a threat, even with a nuke, I'd need minimal casualties and a belief that we'd be willing to let them set up their own govt. even if the new govt. hated us.

Those preconditions seem unlikely to be met, so, as a general rule, I'm against attacking Iran.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:51 PM
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SCMTim, when would it be acceptable for Iran to nuke the United States?

When they reasonably believed they could get away with it.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:52 PM
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SCMT, we're not talking about electoral politics. We're talking about war and peace.

We know that an incredible proportion of Americans, perhaps 30%, are insane warmongers, and another big percent are so addled and low-information that the "wolves" ad swung their vote.

Those are some of the reasons why we're in such bad shape now. But we're not talking about how to win the next election. We're talking about whether to drop nuclear weapons on Iraq or not.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:53 PM
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Iran.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:53 PM
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I don't know what what you mean by acceptable (I'd not accept it as long as I'm living here, and I'm not planning to leave), but there's nothing wrong in asking when Iran would be justified in nuking the U.S. with their hypothetical nukes, nor is something wrong with asking when it would be a good for Iran to nuke the U.S., though the answer to the latter question is right after we've fired all of our nuclear weapons at someone else.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:54 PM
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122: There are lots and lots of conservatives and not-so-conservatives who vote Republican precisely because they think we're too fucking nellie to pull the trigger when necessary.

So the obvious response is to prove you're not nellie at all, by demonstrating that you'd totally be fooled by the same kind of bullshit rationalizations they're fooled by? (Or, to put it more politely, that you'd entertain the same dubious hypothetical scenarios on which they appear to base their judgment?) Haven't the Dems tried enough turns on that road already?


Posted by: Doctor Slack | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:54 PM
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And SCMT, quit thinking that the Bush voters are wise strategic thinkers have decided that Democrats are weak. They aren't.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:54 PM
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There's nothing wrong with asking it, as far as that goes, but the point I'm trying to illustrate is that we're discussing (or not) when it's acceptable to do something unacceptable. The question isn't meaningful.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:56 PM
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Under what circumstances should we try to destroy the moon?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:56 PM
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Having said that, I agree with 127.


Posted by: Doctor Slack | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:57 PM
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"a good" s/b "possibly rational from the Iranian perspective"


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:57 PM
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135: What, you think it's too late to destroy the sun?


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:59 PM
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Under what circumstances should we try to destroy the moon?

In order to halt someone's transformation into an Oozaru.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 6:59 PM
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Like SCMT and ogged, I'm not really getting the giant freak out with regard to baa's question.

For me anyways, preconditions would involve significant reasons to think there that Iran was inclined to use nukes against us and/or close allies, and were dangerously close to achieving the capability.

At this point, it seems they want them for the same old reasons everyone else does, and they're not even close to a device, let alone a missile capable of delivering said device over long distances.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:00 PM
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So the obvious response is to prove you're not nellie at all, by demonstrating that you'd totally be fooled by the same kind of bullshit rationalizations they're fooled by? (Or, to put it more politely, that you'd entertain the same dubious hypothetical scenarios on which they appear to base their judgment?) Haven't the Dems tried enough turns on that road already?

Are you all really too young to remember Dukakis getting asked the "rape and kill Kitty" death penalty question in the debate? If we're honestly unwilling to answer these sorts of questions, then we should just fucking give up and figure out how to best live under Republican rule. Because we're not going to win.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:00 PM
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Stipulating "under 100 civilian casualties" is as unrealistic as stipulating zero. Things tend to get out of hand.

Furthermore, our experience with the Iraq war is that civilian casulties had been significantly understated except when there's a reason to overstate them. When a war with Iran comes along, to the very small extent that the public is informed, we will be given a pig in a poke. We will have no idea whether it will be 100,000. And this is true no matter what they tell us.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:01 PM
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SCMT: So because they are wrong we should throw away principle? As far as I can see, the number one reason for an accellerated nuke program in Iran is the fact that the US has been acting batshit insane for the last few years and throwing its weight around militarily. Not to mention being the major destabilizing influence in the region. Why on earth *wouldn't* they pursue technology that might make Bush & co. think twice?

If we ever had the moral high ground for nonproliferation, it was lost a long time ago by resorting to hypocritical bullshit about it. And baa's original scenario is pretty much the same thing.

I don't see a single plausible scenario that would justify air strikes, let alone invasion, of Iran. Jumping up and down about what they might do aggressively with a nuke they might make doesn't make it plausible.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:03 PM
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Like SCMT and ogged, I'm not really getting the giant freak out with regard to baa's question.

I think it falls along the lines of whether you interpret the question as 'when is it acceptable to do an unacceptable thing' or as 'when is it acceptable to do an undesirable thing?'


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:04 PM
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I seriously can't figure out how anything in 143 is responsive to any of Timmy's comments in this thread


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:05 PM
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Jesus, Tim, none of us is running the Democratic Party. And as I said, we're not planning an election campaign.

Democrats have to learn to win by campaigning better, not by tweaking their positions to fit the supposed voter's supposed opinions.

Knowing what we do about baa's opinions on the subject, I think that most of us reacted differently than we would to a neutral questioner.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:05 PM
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Sorry ogged, I thought I did answer your question in 44. Basically right now, absolutely not. As to why a nuclear Iran is bad, I think a) a nuclear Iran non-trivially increases the likelihood of a nuclear strike *somewhere* in the next 20 years (proliferation, limited exchange with Israel, a middle-east arms race), b) I think the current government of Iran is likely to do things that make the world a worse place, and it will be harder to deter them from doing these things if they have nuclear weapons. It's way short of "existential threat" in other words, but if I credibly believed there were an 'Osirak' style plan, and a whole other list of conditions were met (negotiation had been tried and failed, nuclear weapons were imminent, I didn't think even worse results would come from strategic and other blowback (SCMTim's point about allied support is key here) I could see entertaining the idea. I actually think Bob's 121 is likely right: there is no 'Osirak' plan, so I doubt there are too many situations in which I would support airstrikes.

Of course if those scary wolves live in Iran, all bets are off.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:07 PM
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What we really need to do is remind the American people that the Democratic Party is not afraid of war. After all, they started the Vietnam War, based on total lies, and they "stayed the course" WAY longer. "We are not afraid to fleece the American people in order to put our best and brightest in harm's way for a dubious cause!"


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:07 PM
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I think it falls along the lines of whether you interpret the question as 'when is it acceptable to do an unacceptable thing' or as 'when is it acceptable to do an undesirable thing?'

Perhaps that's it. I'm no fan of the pre-emptive strike, but I can imagine scenarios where I'd be on board. But Iran isn't even in the ballpark.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:12 PM
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SCMT makes me depressed. Do you not see that the strategy you advocate reeks of weakness?

It's no longer 1988. Stop being a pussy.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:15 PM
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I mean, really. Dukakis did not lose that election because he refused to answer the "rape and kill your wife" question. That's probably the best thing he did.

He lost the election because he rode around in a tank. And because he was short. And because the country was relatively rich and happy.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:17 PM
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The umbrage (mild, shook it off before I posted) I took at baa's original question stemmed from the implication that the only reason I was disagreeing with war in Iran is that doing so is the accepted Democratic position, like my clique in high school said pink was the new black or something and I just blindly went along.

But silly charity made me not be (too) snarky when I responded.

Anyhow. The revised hypothetical isn't much better; I can't think of an American bombing campaign (and these have to be big bombs to get at the nuke sites) that yielded only 100 civilian causalties.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:18 PM
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"pink is the new black"

No, Cala, you've got it all wrong. Iran is the new Iraq. That's what baa is here to tell us.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:20 PM
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I mean, Tim, (not to belabor a point) when you think of strong leaders within the Democratic Party, who comes to mind? Is Joe Lieberman one of them? Why take his strategy?

So long as Iran is Iraq, and pink is black, accomodation might as well be strength, and opposition weakness.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:23 PM
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God I wish the U.S. was sneakier. A large part of Iran's population is rather young. Median age is something like 24. The youth don't seem particularly enamored with the hardliners.

We should be air dropping loads of satellite dishes and Nikes into Tehran. That'll undermine them quicker than any bombing campaign.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:26 PM
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Dammit! Nothing I own goes with Iran! Now I'll have to go shopping.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:27 PM
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Dukakis did not lose that election because he refused to answer the "rape and kill your wife" question. That's probably the best thing he did.

The best? There's lots of reasons Dukakis lost, but there are not enough drugs in this world to make me believe that was a positive moment for him.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:28 PM
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gswift, are you trying to get me to offer you drugs? No such luck, punk. Teh F3dz are listening.

I was eight at the time, so perhaps I've got it a bit wrong, but I don't think you can attribute Dukakis' loss to that one statement.

Anyway, I'll not back away from the following: appeasement dressed up in fatigues is still appeasement; it smells like loser, and we need to wash it off.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:35 PM
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Carl Levin spoke here the other night at a rally for the local, very good, Democratic candidate for Congress. One of the many interesting things he said, besides "We are at a very scary moment", was "Don't try to pretend to be anything other than what you are. The voters ultimately sense it, and when they do, you're dead in the water." I'm not sure that he's right that the voters always sense it, but there is worse advice than, "Play it straight, be authentic, speak from the heart and the gut, and for god's sake, don't run for office if you don't have the calling for it." I've now heard from two people who have a passing acquaintance with Al Gore who've said it's very clear that he really didn't want to be President, that it was something his Daddy wanted him to do, and that the more recent environmental policy wonkery/advocacy is really where his heart is at. Good for Al: I just wish he'd found his heart a bit earlier.

The Democrats could do better if they opened the spigots a little and let people be more of what they are, even if that's austere elitists, in some cases. It doesn't do anybody any good if a policy wonk egghead tries to pretend he likes hog jowls, or if, for that matter, a good ol' boy tries to pretend he's got a forty-five point plan for improving the efficiency of filters on municipal air conditioning systems in buildings over thirty years of age.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:36 PM
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153:

I'm with you, gswift. After all, republicans are always saying that democrats are all about subversion. Let's get together and subvert the Iranian gov't through guile, and shoes.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:38 PM
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When I saw Gore speak on Monday, he seemed both like someone who had his hear in his wadvokery and someone who might want to be President to enact the things he was wadvokating.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:41 PM
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Dukakis did not lose that election because he refused to answer the "rape and kill your wife" question. That's probably the best thing he did.

That would be a great answer if Dukakis hadn't, in fact, answered the question. I'm not asking for a specific answer; I'm saying these questions are guarateed to come up, in much worse forms than any baa has posed. Maybe sticking our fingers in our ears and yelling, "La la a la," is the way toward freedom, but I remain doubtful.

Anyone know where Stevenson's buried? Maybe we can stuff him at the taxidermist and run him in '908.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:42 PM
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The Democrats could do better if they opened the spigots a little and let people be more of what they are, even if that's austere elitists, in some cases.

One of the more surprising things, to me at least, is how personable, competent, and interesting he seems years after the election. I don't know if it's overhandling by the Democrats or an inability to combat the Republican spin machine, but we've had two candidates in a row now that seemed as authentic and interesting as margarine.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:42 PM
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163: I've always thought Clinton won because he was a bit of a fuck up, not in spite of it.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:46 PM
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We all know how much Americans hated that elitist libertine Kennedy.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:48 PM
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I haven't read any comments here consisting of "la la la." I've read a lot of aggressive rhetoric, which is frankly reassuring.

I don't know tons about Adlai Stevenson, and I don't see how that era is particularly relevant, but I'd call in the taxidermist and run Dean in 08 as we should have done in 04.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:48 PM
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159 -- being totally fake doesn't always harm candidates. That theory needs quite a bit of tweaking.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:49 PM
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Anyway, the point is, no, we can't make this stop.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 7:50 PM
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I haven't read any comments here consisting of "la la la." I've read a lot of aggressive rhetoric, which is frankly reassuring.

Aggressive rhetoric saying that the question is unfair. (A) It's not. (B) Who cares; it's going to come up anyway. Right now, the only place that Bush and the Republicans seem to trump Democrats in the polls is on the question of who voters trust more to prosecute the war on terrorist. Baa's question--"Just as a question, what circumstances would, in the opinions of those here, justify an airstrike on Iranian nuclear facilities?"--is the precisely the question which we need to be able to answer. Under what conditions would we pull the trigger? I think, "If it improved American interests. A war in Iran unlikely to do that, in part because we're overextended in Iraq, and in part because we've already destroyed our credibility as the world's leader through our invasion of Iraq," is a completely acceptable answer. "Never, ever," is a bad answer, but it's better than, "That question is inappropriate." Because voters think the question is appropriate. We have to have an answer.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:09 PM
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We all know how much Americans hated that elitist libertine Kennedy.

Popularity went up later, but his vote margin was less than one percent.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:16 PM
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I can't decide whether to advocate bombing Iran, advocate Iran's bombing the US, or advocate sending a top-secret team of the finest wrestletainers the WWE's squared circle has to offer to sabatoge the Iranian nuclear program. There are so many delicious trolling possibilities.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:17 PM
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For what it's worth, the "use a nuclear bomb on Iran's facilities and then claim any radioactive stuff lying around is from their facilities, not the bomb" has zero chance of working, for very solid technical reasons.

It may be designed to make other proposed paths of action seem less objectionable, but as an actual plan, no, it won't work.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:21 PM
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155: I've met a fair number of persian youth. At least, the ones who leave the country for grad school (not in the US, surprise surprise) and then go back. They, and from what they tell me of their counterparts back home, aren't terribly enamoured of the way the US suggests they do things, either. Or for the matter, the way it's actually done here. And they have all the nikes they want.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:22 PM
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171: I'm normally to professional wrestling, but if its introduction in Iran would guarantee the peaceful establishment of a robust democratic system in that country, I would be willing to make an exception.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:25 PM
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...normally opposed to...


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:26 PM
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169: Tim, I think you're playing yourself. What you say would be appropriate if the question were "Why shouldn't we attack Iran?" But the question was "Under what circumstances should we attack Iran?" And we don't have to answer that question to know that, under the current circumstances, we sure as hell shouldn't attack Iran, and to be able to express our reasons forcefully, which was done.

To answer the question "Under what circumstances should we attack Iran?" with some dumb hypothetical is to play the enemy's game -- it's like giving a straight answer to "If there were a TICKING NUCLEAR BOMB would you torture someone?" If you argue about that question, you look like an idiot, when you should be saying "That's not what we're talking about when we talk about legalizing torture, you dipshit. Shut the fuck up." Similarly, here it's a mug's game to say, "Gosh, invading Iran would be OK if this and that and the other." Because then they'll start pushing to bring this and that and the other closer to reality, or more likely just make up intelligence that shows this and that and the other to be the case. The proper response is "I'm against invading Iran because it's a stupid fucking idea, the same kind of stupid fucking idea that invading Iraq was. Do you want another Iraq? Get away from me with your ifs and buts." And that's pretty much the response baa has received.


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:29 PM
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they have all the nikes they want.

One key away from mootifying the whole argument.


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:30 PM
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Ed Gettier would be rolling in his grave if he were dead, Matt.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:32 PM
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Aggressive rhetoric saying that the question is unfair.

My aggressive rhetoric isn't that the question is unfair; it's that the question is stupid, and if it's it's going to come up in the campaign, the proper response is "That's a stupid fucking thing to ask and here's why."

If we're going to go look at successful past campaign strategies, here's one that's more applicable to the current situation than Dukakis rape fantasies.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:33 PM
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Pwned by stupid fucking Weiner.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:34 PM
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The best part of that ad is that it doesn't have the candidate perkily saying 'I'm a tool, and I endorse this message.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:36 PM
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Are you-all absolutely sure that this can't be stopped? Perhaps this is my lurkiness talking, but people such as yourselves seem like the people whose calls and letters to politicians, whose op-ed letters, whose presence at demonstrations carry a tremendous amount of weight. Although I certainly believe in the general lunacy of this administration, I am still keeping a tiny corner open on the idea that there might be enough people rebelling behind the scenes to make a stop possible, and it seems worthwhile to engage in all the discredited boring kinds of political activity just because these things work very, very occasionally. I don't mean to sound pushy. Please retroactively read this in a humble tone.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:37 PM
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(The humble tone is indicated by the absolutely uncontrolled italics. I'm so wrought up that I can't keep my html together.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:38 PM
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To answer the question "Under what circumstances should we attack Iran?" with some dumb hypothetical is to play the enemy's game -- it's like giving a straight answer to "If there were a TICKING NUCLEAR BOMB would you torture someone?" If you argue about that question, you look like an idiot, when you should be saying "That's not what we're talking about when we talk about legalizing torture, you dipshit. Shut the fuck up."

(1) I remain unclear about why one couldn't simply say, "If it served our interests," and then explain that our interests were unlikely to be served in the current circumstances.

(2) Give the answer you just gave. Without heat. What infuriated me is the idea that there was something offensive about baa's question. Emerson's right, we're not Democratic strategists, so perhaps my response was unfair. But his question is exactly the one that's going to get asked, and we know it, we know it, we know it. "That unfair, you're being a dick," just isn't going to work.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:39 PM
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If we're going to go look at successful past campaign strategies, here's one that's more applicable to the current situation than Dukakis rape fantasies.

I'm down for that. Fuck, I've been silently praying we'll start making that move.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:41 PM
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FL is clearly correct that if you want clandestine military operations done right, WWE wrestlers are the way to go.


Posted by: Stub | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:41 PM
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Because voters think the question is appropriate.

What's your evidence for this, exactly?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:43 PM
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I remain unclear about why one couldn't simply say, "If it served our interests"

Sounds kind of milquetoast. I prefer "If it wasn't dumb." Didn't you like Obama's "I'm against stupid wars" line?


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:43 PM
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I've met a fair number of persian youth. At least, the ones who leave the country for grad school (not in the US, surprise surprise) and then go back. They, and from what they tell me of their counterparts back home, aren't terribly enamoured of the way the US suggests they do things, either. Or for the matter, the way it's actually done here. And they have all the nikes they want.

But that's the point. We shouldn't be trying to tell them anything. We act like we're the only country that's allowed to have national pride. If we'd just back the hell off and quietly fund the more reformist movements and help them on the economic front, they'll tend towards a more open and democratic society all by themselves. Problem is, we're not even in a position to do that anymore, as any association with America strips any movement of all credibility.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:44 PM
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182:People around here, AFAIK, don't have a lot of behind the scenes power. Some of them have jobs and careers and families, so the civil disobedience stuff requires cover, and anyway, I personally discredited all that 60s stuff by smoking a joint in 1972.

Really really big puppets! Macy parade puppets! Armies of Macy puppets!


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:46 PM
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190: See, my precise point is that you-all have jobs and careers and many of them seem to be pretty decent middle/upper-middle/professional ones. (By which I don't mean that you all have lots of money; I mean that you have a kind of standing which I, as a bohemian weirdo with a no-count secretarial job and shabby clothing...um...lack.) Many of you have, I think, suits. And are perhaps accustomed to public speaking. Therefore you are likely to be more use at a demonstration or writing to your senator than any hundred shaggy hippies, particularly when the issue isn't ending the WTO or dealing with Darfur but is rather a large, obvious issue that lots and lots and lots of not-super-political people have an interest in.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 8:55 PM
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Screw speeches, just give Kotsko a wheelbarrow full of bricks and you're set.


Posted by: Stub | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 9:01 PM
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Didn't you like Obama's "I'm against stupid wars" line?

I haven't heard it, but it sounds perfect.

What's your evidence for this, exactly?

I'm taking the poll results that people trust Republicans more to prosecute the WOT and the general assumption that I think most people share that voters think of Democrats as "soft," and inferring a question. That doesn't seem very strange. Or do you mean the specific instantiation of the question here?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 9:04 PM
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I'm down for that. Fuck, I've been silently praying we'll start making that move.

Me too. I'd love to see the Democrats start standing up and saying, in response to hawkish baiting:

"Look, it's easy to put on your fake soldier outfit and puff out your chest and strut around waving your fists at everybody. And President Bush clearly enjoys pretending he's a soldier. But he isn't. And all the make-believe tough guy acting in the world doesn't make up for being intelligent and listening to the counsel of real soldiers and making smart decisions based on that. Which he also hasn't done. There's a reason 90% of the career military officers running for office this term are running as Democrats. Because it isn't some little game to them. Because they take their jobs and the lives of their fellow soldiers seriously. It's time we had a White House that does too."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 9:05 PM
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191: Seriously, this is getting me thinking. I'm still young enough to be wildly idealistic about this sort of thing. But honestly, I would have no idea how to go about doing this. Then again, one my best friends is currently working for senator Obama and I am taking a class with a well-known terrorist. Maybe I've got options.

And to answer an earlier question, I don't know if I would take a shot in the gut, but I'd spend a night in jail. Hell, I'd spend a year in jail if I thought it would make any difference. Probably could, that'd make a good story. Young crazy female law students acting up for justice are always a good news story.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 9:06 PM
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Basically I have disengaged the question "Should we bomb Iran?" from the question "How do we deal with voters who respond favorably to the idea that we need to bomb Iran?"

I've felt for decades that during my lifetime we are not going to have an actual problem with the US not being hawkish enough. Many Americans, possibly a majority, possibly a strong majority, disagree with me on that. So on this particular question, I am really unsuited to be a campaign strategist. I just say that I think that I'm right about the actual war being proposed.

The electoral-strategy method of deciding on foreign and military policy has not worked well for them Democrats. You have these canned slogans "Democrats must convince the voters that they are Serious about Defense" or "You can never seem like a dove"

Behind this are enormous propaganda machines, some of them Democratic, convincing the voters that the US needs to be Stronger on Defense. A lot of the strategists pushing the Strong on Defense line on the Democrats assure us that we need to be Strong to get the X vote, but I think that most of them have a major committment to Strength for its own sake, as a policy, and actually aren't really sure that being Strong will help the Democrats. IE, for them the payoff is a hawkish Democratic Party, and not necessarily a victorious Democratic Party.

"You can't seem like a Dove" hasn't been a great electoral strategy. I think that it's even worse as a foreign-policy principle.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 9:06 PM
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193: "think Democrats are weak on terrorism" != "want to bomb Iran"


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 9:13 PM
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"think Democrats are weak on terrorism" = "unwilling to bomb Iran (or any other country) under any circumstances." Which is what baa asked about in #14.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 9:18 PM
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God, I find it infuriating that the [public] response is "don't start this war" is "you are weenies who will never protect us" (see 198). The main reasons that the questions like the one baa asked get asked is an attempt to discredit all anti-war opinions as coming from weenies. That's bullshit. There are good reasons for opposing a war now, and trying to make up other hypotheticals that better support accusations of war-weeniedom to obscure the fact that this particular objection is not war-weeniedom is a tactic that should not be engaged. IMO. Except on a blog.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 9:26 PM
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"The main reasons that the questions like the one baa asked get asked is an attempt to discredit all anti-war opinions as coming from weenies."

Agreed.

Give it up, Tim. We're never going to make baa happy, and why try? The Democrats have been plenty hawkish, but there's a demographic that we can't compete for.

If the Democrats aren't going to be able to win until every single Democrats is hawkish enough for baa, then the Democrats are never going to win. It's not like we're party leaders here.

The Republicans out campaign the Democrats on the ground, and they get their hawkish message out there very effectively.

At this point in time I'm opposed to war with Iran for a lot of reasons, and the hypotheticals are just chat, with a general intention of cornering people into sommitting in some way. (I'm not a philosophy major and I like hypotheticals in hardly any circumstances.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 9:42 PM
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Hey Cala, your charity towards me, as it happens, was completely justified. I did not mean to imply (at all) that the only reason anyone opposed airstrikes was because it was the in, lefty thing. Rather, I stipulated a democrat because I know many people here would not trust Bush -- or any republican administration -- in almost any circumstance. Moreover, I think that's an understandable position (although not one I hold). So I was trying to avoid that discussion by stipulating an honest, acceptable administration. (I also didn't want the topic to become how terrible Bush is. Fine. Stipulate he's terrible. He's not going to be president in 2008 and Iran will still be trying to get nucelar weapons. The question is what, if anything, to do about it.) Anyway, take this as a long way round of apologizing for irking you. I really didn't mean to.

Back to the main (?) topic, I understand also that there are some hypotheticals that are distasteful to entertain and obnoxious to propose. The hypothetical "when would the Rwandan genocide be acceptable" is reasonably met with an upraised middle finger. I really did not think that the proposal of bombing Iranian nuclear facilities would strike anyone as being in the same category. Had I known this, I would not have posed it.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 9:44 PM
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117: Well, I did spend 24 hours in police custody for opposing the Iraq War in 2003. And one of my closest friends got shot with a dozen plastic bullets at a demo, so I'd say yeah, I'm down for whatever.

I guess what galls me is that so few people on the moderate left seem unwilling to make even the most low-key attempts at influencing things. Ferchrissakes, the fucking fundies have buses to take them around to the demos and precincts where they're needed. Are y'all telling me that middle-class Dems couldn't afford to rent some buses occasionally, or work some phone-trees or contribute money steadily to more progressive Democratic candidates? What about precinct caucuses and primary elections? I can just about guarantee you that (for now) you're not going to spend a minute in jail for taking some time out for those activities. I talk to a lot of people all along the left-of-center political spectrum who are so depressed and angry about what's gone down in this country over the past however many years, and about 90% of them don't bother to do more than vote in the general elections (and some of them not even that!)

If you do want to build puppets, right on! In The Heart of The Beast Puppet and Mask Theater produced a great "puppet cookbook" some years ago, I'm sure most of the people reading this could get it on inter-library loan with no problem. If you do get busted for illegal puppetry, like Emmett Grogan and the San Francisco Mime Troupe, it's probably going to be a bullshit charge that gets dropped on your first appearance when you show up in a suit, with a lawyer. I've logged hundreds of hours at protests and only been busted twice. And that was more due to my own hot-headedness than anything else. I doubt more than 1 in 10,000 demonstrators in this country ever gets arrested involuntarily. So give it a shot. Bring the kids, many of my friends with kids do. You never know but that it might move someone who was sitting on the fence, or spur an activist on to bigger things.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 9:45 PM
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Iran "could" obtain the "capability" to build nukes in 10 year...so "could" Surinam or Mongolia or my Uncle Bob.


PREDICTIONS ABOUT AN IRANIAN NUKE:

"The Iranians may have an atom bomb within two years, the authoritative Jane’s Defense Weekly warned. That was in 1984, two decades ago.

Four years later, the world was again put on notice, this time by Iraq, that Tehran was at the nuclear threshold, and in 1992 the CIA foresaw atomic arms in Iranian hands by 2000. Then U.S. officials pushed that back to 2003. And in 1997 the Israelis confidently predicted a new date: 2005….”

SOURCE: AP February 27, 2006 - Ever a ‘threat,’ never an atomic power…”
http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=8367e0e9-149b-4a1e-9c74-1a979bd3e325&k=72529

Late 1991: In congressional reports and CIA assessments, the United States estimates that there is a ‘high degree of certainty that the government of Iran has acquired all or virtually all of the components required for the construction of two to three nuclear weapons.’ A February 1992 report by the U.S. House of Representatives suggests that these two or three nuclear weapons will be operational between February and April 1992.”

“February 24, 1993: CIA director James Woolsey says that Iran is still 8 to 10 years away from being able to produce its own nuclear weapon, but with assistance from abroad it could become a nuclear power earlier.”

“January 1995: The director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, John Holum, testifies that Iran could have the bomb by 2003.”

“January 5, 1995: U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry says that Iran may be less than five years from building an atomic bomb, although ‘how soon…depends how they go about getting it.’”

“April 29, 1996: Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres says ‘he believes that in four years, they [Iran] may reach nuclear weapons.’”

“October 21, 1998: General Anthony Zinni, head of U.S. Central Command, says Iran could have the capacity to deliver nuclear weapons within five years. ‘If I were a betting man,’ he said, ‘I would say they are on track within five years, they would have the capability.’”

“January 17, 2000: A new CIA assessment on Iran’s nuclear capabilities says that the CIA cannot rule out the possibility that Iran may possess nuclear weapons. The assessment is based on the CIA’s admission that it cannot monitor Iran’s nuclear activities with any precision and hence cannot exclude the prospect that Iran may have nuclear weapons.”

SOURCE: Cordesman and al-Rodhan
http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2006/08/24/bad-intelligence-but-in-which-direction/


Posted by: hass | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 9:46 PM
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202: so few people on the moderate left seem willing

Of course. It's been a long night at the business school.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 9:47 PM
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Here's a great puppet book link, I am too tired to be fancy:

http://madlibplayers.org/?q=node/113


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 9:52 PM
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The Republicans have framed the argument a certain way, Tim, and I think it works only because it's completely stupid.

It goes like this:

Hannity: Well you don't support [fill in the blank crazy shit -- invading countries, spying on ourselves, torturing people in Guantanomo Bay] But, dear Colmes, you aren't some crazy person, surely you would support these actions under a different factual scenario.

Colmes: Why yes, Hannity. [fill in jargony bullshit] And that's why--

Hannity: So what you're really saying is it's a question of [boring crap, stop paying attention]

Colmes: No, it's more a matter of [nobody's listening to you anymore, Colmes]

And so we have no real answer, and most importantly, the moral implications are removed from the debate. But the Democrat made concessions, and the Republican looks strong. Don't worry about it, America, it's under control: now more Jean Benet Ramsy news.

Stop it Tim! I slap your face! Stop being Alan Colmes!


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 9:56 PM
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John at Dymaxion World, excellent blog, even if I did call him a motherfucker

Time to Panic ...2nd ordered naval deployment, this time a carrier group


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 10:01 PM
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Maybe we need a candidate willing to answer the question--I think what we need is a candidate willing to treat such a question with scorn, however I'll concede that I may be wrong on that one--but the more relevant issue for us to answer is, what do we need as a democratic base? Do we need a democratic base willing to answer baa's question?

I think that answer is an emphatic no. It really gets us nowhere. What we need is to be really really really really really pissed off right now.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 10:01 PM
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I don't know if it's more offensive that I seem to be the Hannity of the example, or that anyone human should be cast in the role of Colmes. In the interests of comity, however, I offer the pessimists here the following hedge -- I will cover 1:1 bets if someone wants to place money on a US airstrike on Iran during the Bush administration.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 10:08 PM
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You're on for a nickel.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 10:12 PM
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If I win, please donate it to Jacquiline Passey's tip jar.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 10:20 PM
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And that's not a euphemism.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 10:22 PM
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Ten utils says kaboom.


Posted by: standpipe b | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 10:24 PM
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Nothing doing. I'll send it to you, and you can do with it what you please. Until you prove that you're Jacqueline Passey, she is no recipient.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 10:24 PM
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Does Lee Seigel's blog have a tip jar? I want to support causes I believe in.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 10:30 PM
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Fortuny's probably looking for some support.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 10:47 PM
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He doesn't get my victory nickel.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 10:50 PM
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He could give it to Passey for you.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 10:51 PM
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189: granted we shouldn't be telling anyone what to do. But we also shouldn't assume that left to their own devices they'll end up somewhere beneficial to us. I mean, the persians I know don't want a secular democracy modelled on a `western' one, and they do pretty much want US influence out of the middle east. I can't really see how we can blame them.

That doesn't mean they support the hard-line mullahs. On the other hand, the chart they'd course given a free rein isn't going to please many corporate interests here, either. Bottom line is, not only do we have to stop telling people what to do, we have to suck it up if, when left to their own devices, they tell us to fuck off. We shouldn't even be funding reformist movements, because, as you noted ... that ends up discrediting them .. but that isn't new either.

I don't see having a US administration with the balls to face up to that, though. It's the little men waving guns around we're probably stuck with.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 11:39 PM
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Baa's question is upsetting b/c the prospect of war is upsetting and people are feeling like it's the wrong time to ask us to dispassionately hypothesize about whether war would be okay under x or y circumstances. It's upsetting to be asked to treat what feels like a genuine threat as if it were an abstract parlor game.

That said: time in jail, yes. Shot, if I'm not seriously injured, fine. Serious injury or death, no: I have a kid.

Also, I'm kind of wishing I could remain in a no-news bubble a while longer.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 11:45 PM
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Sorry ogged, I thought I did answer your question in 44

Oops, so you did.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-21-06 11:58 PM
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put me down as not getting the failure to get the anger at baa's hypothetical. this is exactly like the person who brings in the imaginary ticking nuclear bomb, that's right in front of you, and if you're just willing even to slap osama hard in the face you can save 18 million people! but you're too much of a pussy to slap osama, aren't you!! that kind of thing is capital S STUPID and should be laughed off scornfully. for the record, if we knew exactly where all the components of the Iranian nuke program were, and had the most awesomest laser-guided bombs evar, it would still be a stupid fucking idea to bomb Iran. because it's STUPID TO START WARS. because the Iranians would cut off our supply lines in southern Iraq. because that one muslim dude in the whole fucking world who wasn't convinced the US is on a crusading war against Islam would come around and realize we were. because however much you think we have blown all our prestige and influence with friendly governments, it could be worse. because it's wrong to kill people in countries that haven't struck your country first. because the Iranians have no way to deliver a bomb to america. because if we set them back they could start again, and eventually suceed, because building bombs isn't actually sooo hard, but this time they would be fuelled with the white heat of revenge. because destabilizing the ME more is an incredibly, amazingly stupid idea and a further spike in oil prices could send the entire world into recession. because they might decide that if they're going to get bombed anyway, they might as well fuck up Isreal bad. do I need to go on? the invitation to construct some fantasy world in which it's a good idea to undertake something which, in reality is a terrible idea, is one which should be forcefully declined. you know when it would be a good idea to attack Iran? when Iran attacked us. what if we knew they were about to attack us? frankly, we've been down this road and I'm not going to believe it when I hear this. let's stipulate that they develop a way to weave ICBMs out of the fine twisted silk threads in the carpet-weaving workshops of Qom, and they paint a big sign on the side of one that says "fuck u amerika" and they load the warhead on and they deliver a paper at the UN saying "we're about to launch an unprovoked nuclear attack on the most powerful country in the world", and everyone in Iran gets a pony. then, it would be a good idea to bomb them. otherwise you can kindly fuck off, and I say this as someone who likes baa very much. it's a bad thing that more countries are getting nuked up, but it's impossible for us to stop it. the more we bomb those countries close to getting the bomb, the more we increase the incentive to nuke up. proliferation obviously increases the risks of an eventual nuclear conflict, which is very bad but:
1) all life on earth won't be destroyed. remember, in the cold war, how if both sides used their whole arsenals, possibly all life on the planet would die, save some hardy silicon-based worms clustered around smoking volcanic trenches in the inky depths? and those hideous lacy crabs?
2) there is no reason to think people won't be deterred by the prospect of getting nuked right back. no. reason. if anything, the soviet leadership had less to lose, because they had tons of badass hardened bunkers to retreat to. if I never have to hear some zit-faced pajamas media hack bloviating about the hidden imam again it will be too fucking soon. I see you that and I raise you some Tim LaHaye. wait, the people reading the left behind books aren't really ready to lay down their lives for christ right this minute? they're basking in the warm glow of millenarian fantasy but in real life they want to stay alive and eat and fuck some more? you don't fucking say.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 6:12 AM
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Wow. I was tempted to spin out a fatalistic fantasy about succumbing to the war. Letting it happen as I let the previous war happen -- and feeling the sick fear that it is going to get me too, like all the people actually affected (in a more-than-psychic way) by the previous war on whose behalf I was outraged -- but after 222 my heart is not in it.


Posted by: Clownæsthesiologist | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 6:29 AM
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Dude. Exactly.

Let me take another stab at what annoyed me about baa's original hypothetical. The topic on the table was: "It appears likely that this administration, now, may be about to attack Iran. What can we do to make it less likely?"

Baa's hypothetical was, if intended to make a point directly relevant to that topic, offensively disingenuous in a way that lots of people have described. He says, and I believe him, that he wasn't trying to make a point relevant to that topic. Instead, he was introducing a new topic "Are there any circumstances at all under which you people would support a war?" which, you know, considering all the bullshit that got talked about knee-jerk pacifists in the runup to this war, and SCMT's cowering panic in the face of possibly being called a nellie (Um, anyone thinking about why maintaining a society in which anything feminine is righteously scorned can lead to problems?) is itself an asshole question. I don't have to establish my willingness to get veins in my teeth to oppose a war that's a self-evidently bad idea, and anyone who expects me to do so (hi, baa!) is being an ass.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 6:35 AM
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In public speaking, the answer is "We fight wars in our own immediate self-defense, or for the immediate defense of others, and for no other reason."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 6:37 AM
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The government probably isn't as unmoored as it looks; stories like the one yesterday that it was good politics to forget the middle suggest rational calculation. What kills us is the uncertainty about whether it would work one more time, if they played all of their fear cards, and raised a lot of money, as the NYT story TPM linked to yesterday suggested. It's not apocolyptic, just dismal calculation, plus a track record of success against what would have once seemed impossible situations for them.
They've got us spooked.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 6:41 AM
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I really think it's a mistake to think that Bush-Rove won't be able to pull this off. "Move to the center" has been a rule since maybe 1948, certainly 1952, but Rove and Bush may have succeeded in changing that rule.

"We don't respond to reality, we make reality". I really hated the snotty Democratic response to that. It was the same as Marx's "The point is not to understand the world, but to change it". Democrats always assume that tomorrow will be pretty much the same as today.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 7:21 AM
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There hasn't been enough consideration of the post linked in #9. After reading it, I literally said "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!"

And now I think there is a 30 to 40% chance that Bush will be killed or incapacitated in some secret way by the military. Cheney may be evil, but at least he doesn't see himself as the Messiah.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 7:23 AM
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I really think it's a mistake to think that Bush-Rove won't be able to pull this off.

Similarly, it's a mistake to think the Iranians have any reason to back down.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 7:28 AM
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225- how do you answer retorts of "Appeasement! Munich!"? (And I don't just mean answer in political rhetoric, I mean answer to yourself, as a matter of personal political philosophy. Although the former question is also interesting.)

I mean, I'm seriously not trying to be an ass, and I'm not in any way suggesting we should go and attack Iran. But would WWII have been less terrible if the League of Nations had stepped in aggressively against Hitler's militarization in the 1930s? I think yes, though could perhaps be convinced otherwise. And, if yes, is there anything we ought learn from that to make a potential WWIII less devastating? What? When ought we do something to prevent bad actors from increasing their capability to cause harm?

I don't really have an answer, but this seems to me to be miles away from an absurd question.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 7:39 AM
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"Are there any circumstances at all under which you people would support a war?" which, you know, considering all the bullshit that got talked about knee-jerk pacifists in the runup to this war, and SCMT's cowering panic in the face of possibly being called a nellie (Um, anyone thinking about why maintaining a society in which anything feminine is righteously scorned can lead to problems?) is itself an asshole question.

1. This is what I love: everyone objects to baa's question, and then does exactly what they should-gives an answer. Ala says,

you know when it would be a good idea to attack Iran? when Iran attacked us. what if we knew they were about to attack us? frankly, we've been down this road and I'm not going to believe it when I hear this. let's stipulate that they develop a way to weave ICBMs out of the fine twisted silk threads in the carpet-weaving workshops of Qom, and they paint a big sign on the side of one that says "fuck u amerika" and they load the warhead on and they deliver a paper at the UN saying "we're about to launch an unprovoked nuclear attack on the most powerful country in the world", and everyone in Iran gets a pony. then, it would be a good idea to bomb them. otherwise you can kindly fuck off,
and LB says, "We fight wars in our own immediate self-defense, or for the immediate defense of others, and for no other reason." Both are perfectly fine answers.

2. You accept that baa's not being disingenous. I believe that the only advantage Republicans have on us is voter confidence that the Republicans are better on the WOT. I think the Republicans believe that, too. If they're going to keep control of the government, it's going to be on that basis. So that's pretty much a question I think we should have an answer to. If disingenous baa has that question, it strikes me as just possible that disingenuous Potential Dem Voter X will have it, too. I have no idea why this could possibly be questionable. That it is strikes me as completely depressing. What's driving my panic is people's apparently complete inability to imagine that the question might come up from people who need to be convinced to move to vote for us. Actually, what's driving my panic is my growing sense that I'm doomed to live under the rule of Republicans--whom I consider absolutely incompetent, barbaric, and anti-American--for the majority of what remains of my life.

This strikes me as entirely related to MY's writings on Dem non-work on actually having an Iran policy and putting it out there to stop a possible war in Iran. I thought he was just crazy to focus on that.

3. Um, anyone thinking about why maintaining a society in which anything feminine is righteously scorned can lead to problems?

Believe it or not, I actually thought about exactly that issue as I was writing it out. But that's what (I think) the voter we need thinks. I suppose I could have said, "Potential voters think we are too scrupulous and too moral to protect the country's interests." But that's not what (I think) they think; they think we're too "soft" or "feminine." But, hey, maybe ignoring that actuality will make it go away. Success through misdiagnosis. Sweet! I think I just figured out how to stop the bombing of Iran: close our eyes, believe it won't happen, and clap louder. I'm on board.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 7:39 AM
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Look, it's not a neutral question. The conversation goes like this (this is not intended to be a literal recapitulation of the above conversation, nor am I attributing any views or disingenuousness to baa. I accept that baa has recently landed from Mars, and is still learning the complexities of human communication):

Me: I oppose this war you're trying to start for reasons X, Y, and Z.

Republican: Aren't there any circumstances at all under which you'd be willing to fight? Or do your elevated moral standards, or pusillanimous cowardice, require you to stand there while jihadists eat babies in front of you? Planning to hand them the salt?

Me: You are an incredible asshole with absolutely no arguments to make in favor of the war you advocate. There's nothing to say in favor of your position -- all you can do is try to change the subject. Fuck off and die, and come back and talk to me if you've got an argument rather than an insult.

That's not a weak response. What you're advocating comes out exactly like text's Hannity and Colmes dialog in 206, and it is weak. Our politicians have been doing exactly what you advocate for years now, and they lose.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 7:55 AM
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SCMT: I have been talking about somewhat the same issue. The way I've framed it, though, is "Bush may very well attack Iran, and use the crisis atmosphere as a political tool against the Democrats. How do we keep him from doing that? If he does attack Iran, how do we oppose him? If he does start another war, how do we take it away from him as a political issue?"

The Democrats have made no effort in those areas. They should have been putting out their own trial balloons and warnings, and they should have been shooting down the Republican trial balloons and scare tactics as they appeared. But they really didn't.

You frame the issue, "The American voter thinks Democrats are not hawkish enough. How do we convince them that we're hawkish enough?" To me that gives up the issue right at the beginning. That's just reactive to Rove's framing.

The Democrats' decades-long failure to try to change the conventional wisdom, instead of following it, has led to a long, slow decline, since initiatives are now mostly coming from the other side.

The Republican strength isn't on issues -- the key voters we're talking about aren't thinkers. It's in getting their message out (every day, all year) and in running campaigns. And by now the media, for whatever reason, are mostly in their pocket.

Things have gotten slightly better in the last 5 years, but not enough.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 7:59 AM
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SCMT: I'd like to know where anyone in this thread advocates closing our eyes. Trust me, you are the one who looks soft on this.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 7:59 AM
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Again with the veins in the teeth, LB. Look, it's just not a crazy question to ask "under what circumstances would you try to eliminate the Iranian nuclear program by force." Sorry, it isn't. I asked the question because honestly, I wanted to know. Had I known this issue was so fraught with moral resonance that the question could not be entertained, I would not have raised it. If you will just flag with an asterix those posts where you feel unable to discuss your position politely because of the context of the Bush adminstrations or SCMT's cowering, or whatever you like, that would be a big help.

On the substance, if in your 225 "for public speaking" means "what I actually believe" then, I would say your position seems to me incorrect, and would have ruled out the use of military force in cases that seem legitimate to me. NATO bombing of Serbia, and Israeli bombing of Osirak to name two. If instead "for public speaking" means "I do not believe this, but will say it so as not to give support to warmongers" then I sympathize.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 8:06 AM
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SCMT: I'm just not seeing it. potential dem voters don't, particularly, want to know: in what alternate world scenarios it would be a good idea to bomb Iran? to the extent that anyone is asking questions like this, setting baa aside because I'm willing to say baa is genuinely wondering something, it is because they are trying to make people who don't want to bomb Iran right now in the real world look like pussies. the appropriate response to that is not "well, I would be tough and hawklike if we knew that less than 100 casualties would blah blah blah" but "fuck you, pal. in real life starting another war in the middle east is so incredibly stupid that I almost can't believe anyone is serious about it. do you really think Iraq went so well that you want more of the same, but maybe with nuclear weapons? dumbass." to the extent that people think dems are spineless, it's a good idea to get righteously angry and tell people to piss off with their shit cribbed from rejected 24 scripts. engaging with bullshit hypotheticals about what jack ryan would do if he were president is a mug's game. so getting pissed about it isn't a problem. and we're all answering the question. and it's not as though we're whining "oh, baa's politicizing terrorism, it's not faaair" like a bunch of moron actual democratic politicians.
and god are they morons. I can't believe they got played so bad on this torture thing. TORTURE! what is the goddamn point of voting for those fuckers, if all they're going to do is table a motion that the republicans should use KY when they rape america up the ass? and then when the motion doesn't pass they don't filibuster. and come around going, well, senator kennedy and I proposed that KY be used...what have you done for me lately you incompetent cocksuckers in the democratic party?


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 8:10 AM
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235: How is the weather on Mars? Cold, I understand.

When you manage to come up with something to say that strikes me as having any interesting connection to what's been said before in this thread, or to the realities of current political discourse, I'm sure I'll be fascinated.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 8:16 AM
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231: Part of the problem is that the Republicans don't need to invade Iran to win in November. They just need to convince the country that it is a true and realistic threat. And to the extent that Democrats begin weakly by saying 'Well, Iran now isn't a threat, but under circumstances X, Y, and Z I would consider it if as in your hypothetical it would only kill A, B, and C amounts of people', then instead of the Democrat looking like a fair and reasoned thinker, he looks like the guy without the stones to take decisive action early, the guy too worried about casualties to Be A Man.

But since he's accepted the premises ('Iran is a threat which must be dealt with seriously'), and he doesn't want to look soft, he's more or less handed the game to the Republicans. Nuance hasn't worked so far. It is stupid to be discussing hypotheticals about when it would okay to bomb Iran politically, and I would love it if a politician would give an answer like apo's 195. Change the subject. Instead of nattering over ways it would be okay to bomb Iran, start with 'I'm against stupid wars' and take it from there.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 8:16 AM
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238: Exactly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 8:18 AM
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This has no bearing on whether we can discuss it in blog comments, of course, and we can be up for a game of whether it would be more or less moral to bomb Iran if the nuke facilities were going to serve also as the station for the runaway trolley conducted by a brain in a vat.

It's just that it's not a neutral question for a politician or pundit to answer, and beginning by saying 'Yes, Mr. Republican, you are absolutely right about our need to be ballsy, and I am ballsy, I just disagree on this teensy point but see my balls? I got some' just hasn't worked.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 8:23 AM
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240 -- are you proposing a Friday puzzle thread?


Posted by: Clownæsthesiologist | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 8:24 AM
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(In the second half of your first sentence I mean)


Posted by: Clownæsthesiologist | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 8:26 AM
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Politically, I don't think that it's possible to outhawk the Republicans, and trying to match them looks "me too". And anything less than the max will be portrayed as weak.

The only hope is to reframe the question, and convince the voters that the Republicans are too hawkish. But the Democrats haven't really tried.

That was in response to Tim. In response to baa, I've always thought those hypotheticals with their neat payoff matrices are fraudulent. I also think that the Iran threat is being exaggerated in order to make political hay, just as the Iraq threat was (though less so). And at this point in time, hypotheticals like that are just part of the Rove spin. (Framing hypotheticals is supposedly done in timeless, abstract historical space, but in this case there is a present historical context to which the hypothetical obviously is intended to apply. Pretending we're talking about abstractions is fake).

I guess that if I were really convinced that Iran is crazily aggressive and on the verge of getting nuclear weapons, and if there were a degree of international consensus about this, and an honest case had been made that diplomacy had failed, and a reasonable individual were in power, I could even accept preventive war. Not limited nuclear war, though, I don't think. But these hypotheticals are far contrary to the actual situation now.

I guess I'm saying that I'd like to postpone the refined philosophical discussion until a time when I'm not fighting off alligators.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 8:30 AM
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I would love it if a politician would give an answer like apo's 195.

I'll put up a link to the Paypal page for my exploratory committee. "America deserves a president who makes cock jokes, not a president who is one."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 8:32 AM
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I never thought I'd say John Emerson was kinder and more patient than I. But here I am saying it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 8:33 AM
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230: One way to answer it is to realize that you can't use "appeasement" as an excuse for starting wars of aggression; the more loosely the term is being used, the likelier it is that the person using it is trying to act like Hitler* while make pious noises at Churchill.

The Iraq War was a perfect example of that, incidentally -- the country to be invaded had made no aggressive moves, had no real capability to do so, was basically as far from a strategic equivalent of Nazi Germany as it's possible to be. Its invaders had to gin up a fictional crisis to make it seem like a threat, and were still crying "appeasement!" at their detractors as they charged across its borders.

[* I mean, since we're breaking Godwin's Law we might as well go all the way.]

235: Baa, you've made it plain that you asked The Question in the assumption that "Iranian nuclear program" and "Iranian nuclear weapons program" are intechangeable, and something we'll "still" be dealing with when Bush is gone. That basically means you're positing the ginned-up crisis of the moment as real and asking people to treat it as worth responding to.

Now, the ginned-up crisis of the moment is not "crazy" in an absolute and timeless sense -- it is of course possible to imagine Iran trying to get nukes some time in the future, though there's zero evidence that they're doing so now. But it is fairly crazy to bring it up as if it's relevant in a discussion about whether war on Iran now is a good idea.


Posted by: Doctor Slack | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 8:51 AM
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Just as a question, what circumstances would, in the opinions of those here, justify an airstrike on German mind-control ray facilities.


Posted by: Clownæsthesiologist | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 8:56 AM
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I'm no longer sure that there's any disagreement here. In #238, Cala says, "Instead of nattering over ways it would be okay to bomb Iran, start with 'I'm against stupid wars' and take it from there." In #239, I think LB agrees with that as a strategy. Back in #193, I said of that strategy, "I haven't heard it, but it sounds perfect."

I thought people were saying that the appropriate response was, "That's an unfair question, and I refuse to answer it." And then, adding to my confusion, they would more or less uniformly answer the question. If this is an accurate description, Dem politicians are taking the refuse-to-respond position on Iraq, and planning to focus on the economy. I think that's a mistake; I think it was proven to be a mistake in the last two election cycles during which we tried it; I think we should be hammering away on Iraq. If I'm wrong on the uselessness of this as a strategy, well, onward to victory.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 8:58 AM
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248: Comity! Now, about your insufficient hatred of John McCain...


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 9:07 AM
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sounds like we all agree, and maybe did the whole time. I think the point most of us were making is that we need to focus on the specific issue at hand, and not answer ridiculous hypotheticals, and SCMT took that as saying that we should not talk about the issue at all, which would be the wrong approach, agreed.

onto calling our congresspeople!


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 9:15 AM
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I took baa's question as trying to establish as to whether the opposition was on the merits of the "Iran is a threat", or because it was Bush doing it.

Not a crazy question, because I'll be the first to admit, I don't trust this administration to do anything anymore. As it so happens, I don't think at this point there's a case to be made on the merits either. But in light of the last 5 years, I also feel like I'm on pretty solid ground assuming "should not be allowed to do anything, because everything they touch turns to shit."


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 9:15 AM
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249: If the torture deal means what I think (or, rather, what people whose writing I trust think) it means, that's no longer a problem.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 9:16 AM
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re: "I took baa's question as trying to establish as to whether the opposition was on the merits of the "Iran is a threat", or because it was Bush doing it."

I don't know if anyone's mentioned it already (I haven't read the whole thread) but there is the whole 'sovereign nation' thing to consider as well.

The comments I have read all turn on the pragmatic benefits or costs of America doing this and on *who* would be making these policy decisions.

However, there's also the fact that Iran has a right not to be fucking bombed and that right is one they don't lose unless they do something genuinely aggressive and in violation of international law.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 9:31 AM
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#253

Absolutely.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 9:37 AM
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233:"Things have gotten slightly better in the last 5 years, but not enough" ...Emerson

You're shitting me. The stakes have risen from blowjobs and National Parks to torture and thermonuclear war, and the shrill response and message discipline has risen 5%. Schumer to Reid.
You need to get off my meds.

otherwise, alameida is doing fine today


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 9:46 AM
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And LB. Both alameida and LB, incidentally, are examples of why some of the gender stuff in this thread bothers me. There is nothing unfeminine about wanting to blow things up. Comes ze revolucion, I fully expect the feminists and choice battalions to be the shock and awe of the army.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 9:55 AM
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255: The slight improvement is mostly outside the party structure, and includes very few elected officials indeed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 9:58 AM
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253: Hey, check my 84. I said that international law forbids aggressive war, way back when.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 10:04 AM
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re: 258

Reading your 84 now, yes, I agree with all that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 10:10 AM
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And your point, generally, is fair -- the idea that we should be making decisions about whether to bomb other countries on any other basis than the most craven possible demand for perfect safety has been almost removed from mainstream American political discourse.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 10:18 AM
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re: 260

Yes, the debate seems very solipsistic with even opponents of military action generally casting their opposition in terms of what will be good for Americans.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 10:22 AM
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So this is the thread for exociating SCMT for emulating Colmes all the while sevearl others emulate the *worst* of conservative pundits by trying to force your argument via "yelling", name-calling, and cursing? I'm *so* convinced by this rudeness! I want to say an extra-special "wow" to LB, who seems to be mostly responsible for it. Comments like 237 are not appropriate.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 11:21 AM
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Smelling salts?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 11:40 AM
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Michael, rudeness and name-calling work for the Republicans and we're just being pragmatic.

We're taking you anti-rude vote for granted the way Democrats take the black and left-liberal votes for granted. You'll come around, because you're smart enough to understand that a vote for the Non-Rude Party is the same as a vote for the Republicans.

So we can piss on you with impunity, the way the Democrats piss on their own core people.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 12:12 PM
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My own response to 23 is that I'm not big on the question simply b/c I don't have well-formed opinions on that subject. I'm not sure I can imagine all the possible variables, which is why "trust" is a very important component, which is why there's no plausible scenario I'd support a strike against Iran's nuclear sites under the Bush Admin.

So, contra LB in 41, a Dem admin would have a very good chance of changing how I viewed certain arguments. Still, for all the reasons Alameida did a good job of laying out, it would be a very, very high bar. The worst scenario is that Iran develops a nuke, and puts in on a ship with some terrorists, and then that sails to a large harbor. But that seems just too implausible. Iran would seal its own fate. A consequence of being a nation-state, instead of Al-Qaeda....actually, no, now that I think about it, the worst scenario is that a nuke is detonated in a harbor, but we have so many nuclear-armed enemies, we're unsure of who did it. I should speech-write for Cheney.

Anyway, were I a Dem strategist, I might think about coming up with some "good neighbor" policies, y'know, to win those "hearts and minds."


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 12:22 PM
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I'm hearing only crickets in response to the clear and present danger of a German mind-control ray. Appeasing crickets!


Posted by: Clownæsthesiologist | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 12:25 PM
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ha, Emerson, got you; I'm a believer in not voting.

The Dems should campaign on "stop throwing people into jail for smoking weed", and cause real confliction among a lot of Bush's hawkish base.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 12:36 PM
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just once...

FREE WILLIE!


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 12:36 PM
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I'm a believer in not voting.

There's an argument to be made that it only encourages them.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 12:40 PM
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Well, Michael, if you're a believer in not voting, we can piss on you even more with even more impunity. Just tons and tons of impunity.

Take that, non-voter!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 12:46 PM
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like that'll stop if I do vote...


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 12:53 PM
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Whenever I need some impunity I know whom to piss on.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 1:02 PM
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Ahem.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 1:09 PM
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Right -- but is Emerson among the ladies you were addressing?


Posted by: Clownæsthesiologist | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 1:11 PM
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I love all women, c.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 1:14 PM
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Guys, remember? Pee, comity?


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 1:22 PM
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I don't HAVE to drink my own urine, but I do because it's sterile and I like the taste!


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 1:27 PM
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Thanks much, Michael.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 1:28 PM
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Do the voting booths ATM have glory holes?


Posted by: Clownæsthesiologist | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 1:29 PM
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Not that anyone cares, but the fact that people used to be able to ask questions like Baa's* here without everything getting personal and filled with righteous anger was what made this place interesting.

Now it's just another blog comments section where people yell at each other.

*and I don't just mean a conservative, or a topic changing question. I'm referring to the fact that people could pretty much say anything here, and the comments would generally trudge on with a minimum of temper-flaring and indignation.


Posted by: jason | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 2:02 PM
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280: Oh, come on. No one called baa anything rude. I, and others, got testy at an apparently disingenous and actually irrelevant comment in the middle of a conversation about something important.

Talking to someone about "What is this strange quirk in your nature that makes you oppose, what do you call it? Aggressive war?" is occasionally entertaining, but it does get old.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 2:31 PM
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anything rude s/b anything terribly rude. I suppose 'what are you, from Mars?" and "Honestly, baa" are both rude, but if that's your standard of blistering invective you need to get out more.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 2:33 PM
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To be fair, baa poses that same question about pretty much every topic, so I really don't think he, specifically, was being disingenuous. And it is generally a helpful way to examine where people stand on a particular issue and why. However, the topic at hand is so dire and the potential so unbelievably disastrous, that it's hard (for me, at least) to be very clinical about it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 2:39 PM
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LB,

a) aren't 3/4 of the comments around here off-topic, or irrelevant? An odd standard for insulting someone. (saying someone is arguing in bad faith is an insult, though of course it can be true)
b) I think we've established that you were wrong about baa being disingenous, and this is one of the strongest arguments for civility.
c) "anything better than blistering invective" is not my standard for being a good interlocutor


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 2:40 PM
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Another factor might be that we've had this argument many times before, including with baa, and are tired of version 27.3.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 2:44 PM
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Sure, but 14 got reasonable answers. I 'shouted' that I was talking not about whether I supported an attack on Iran, but that it should not be a unilateral call by the executive, but I neither I nor anyone else said anything rude to baa after that question. What got me (and others) cranky was the hearts-and-flowers scenario in 23.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 2:46 PM
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Damn you Emerson and LizardBreath! Bringing Unfogged down to the level of "just another blog comments section where people yell at each other"!


Posted by: Clownæsthesiologist | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 2:49 PM
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Whatever. baa's a big boy. He'll survive. Worst case scenario (which I assume won't happen, and which I would personally consider a huge loss), he doesn't visit as much. Nobody's going to die.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 2:50 PM
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There's also the refusing to acknowledge an answer when he gets one. Cala, Brock, Emerson and I all answered 14 clearly and succinctly.

Nonetheless, in 44, we get:

But I was -- and remain -- genuinely curious about what people here think about the airstrike option opposed from the (very understandable) distrust for the Bush administration and concern for proper democratic process.

It's desperately annoying to be told that someone is 'genuinely curious' about the answer to a question you have already answered. The implication is that either they aren't listening, or that your answer was so self-evidently stupid that they're going to give you another shot at it. Either is irksome.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 2:50 PM
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John, I think baa's question brought about some interesting discussion.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 2:53 PM
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LB, I think 44 was just another iteration on his defense of 23 and 14 - trying to convince you that he was, in fact, being genuine.

As you know, he asked a question, and got answers. I'm not sure what follow-up you'd want. "Thanks for answering"?


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 2:56 PM
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Really LB, 41 was a bit beneath you.

As fair warning to anyone else ever hoping to engage with me in a possibly contentious discussion, this is a fine, fine tactic for convincing me to address you as "Fuckface". As a way to rachet down the level of rhetoric it's less well chosen.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 2:57 PM
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Whatever. baa's a big boy. He'll survive.

I think that, with all that he's contributed here, he deserves some support.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 2:58 PM
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LB, you called him an idiot. If he takes issue with that, you're just going to just ratchet it up? That's a bully's argument.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 2:59 PM
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I called his hypothetical idiotic, because it is. Look at it -- would you support bombing Iran if you knew that it would be a huge success and very few people would be hurt? That's not knowable going in. I didn't say a blessed thing about him, personally.

If he's going to come in with idiotic hypotheticals, he needs to be tough enough to listen to them being called idiotic. If he doesn't enjoy that, he's not going to enjoy talking to me, and should probably figure that out briskly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 3:03 PM
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294: Michael, it seems like you're looking for some formula for appropriate methods of discussion. Those things rarely work out well; usually, they seem to simply restrict conversation or challenge people to waste their time and effort trying to get around them. Instead, there end up being broad norms within a community about appropriate methods. Norms--about what can be discussed and how--change, and people change with them. I think baa adds a lot, too, and, as I said, I'm pretty sure baa will be fine. Or rather, I'm sure he'll be fine, and I'm pretty sure he'll be fine coming back here. But I don't really see the point of chasing down alleged injuries and requiring justifications for them.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 3:10 PM
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This is a really dark day, with torture justifications and prevarications and all, and many of us aren't in the mood. It's surprising how often people will try to explain to men from mars, but they can't expect it to be every day.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 3:32 PM
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Meh, I think the reaction to baa was a bit unhinged. I don't buy that he wasn't insulted personally, because people explicitly said that they thought his hypotheticals were disingenuous or designed to "trap" people. Is that really how he operates? Maybe one of you with the elephantine memories will dig up someplace where he wrung an in-principle concession out of someone and then tried to make it seem like his policy preference was logically necessary, but I don't remember anything like that. And LB, your reading of 44 in 289 just seems very uncharitable. It's possible to take someone saying that he remains curious about a group's position as a rejection of what's been said so far, but it's also possible (and in this case pretty clearly more appropriate) to take it as an expression of good will. Given that the rest of 44 is responsive to people in the thread, I'm not sure why you'd take it any other way.

And Jason has a point at 280. I, personally--and others too, I think--are getting the sense that disagreements are being expressed less and less as "you're wrong" and more and more as "you're an asshole for being wrong."

I take the point that people are angry about this topic, and responses can become intemperate, but I don't think that means that baa deserved the response he got.


***
(None of the above should be understood to mean that I don't still hate The Jews (or women, for that matter).)


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 4:44 PM
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not really looking for some formula, Tim. I'm not interested in a general rule. It's just that baa is always polite, even his reply to LB contained a sort of compliment, and I suppose I feel politeness deserves politeness. It seems to be more productive, anyway. And I think a lot of replies to baa made good points, but they would have been better if not for the anger. That's enough from me on this. The only reason I commented about this was really just to give baa some support.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 4:53 PM
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Kobe-Wilt-LBJ!

298: OT: Where does "meh" come from? I've only ever seen it on the Internet, and I've never heard anyone make that sound IRL.

299: Yeah, OK, I can see that. Never mind.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 4:56 PM
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"Meh" is how it gets written, but when people say it in real life, it's more of "mneeh;" kind of a less committal "nah."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 4:59 PM
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Michael, as far as I can see the question baa asked, in the context it was asked was either disengenous or at best ill concieved (if not actually idiotic, as others have suggested).

It is pretty obvious that almost any american would support the US bombing country X under *some* conditions (for example, they just bombed chicago).

Baa's question implies that there are some sort of reasonably plausible conditions that could be met in the near future that would make bombing iran sensible. Pretending the implication isn't there is either naive or disengenous, as far as I can see.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 5:02 PM
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soub,

so say "there aren't any plausible conditions for X"

That's a fine response. Why does it have to be, "there aren't any plausible conditions for X, you disingenious, malipulative, idiot!"

I'm not convinced of the importance of the last part.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 5:09 PM
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malipulative s/b manipulative


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 5:10 PM
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I've always hated the hypotheticals game, in almost any context. I'm an anti-philosopher that way. I think that hypotheticals supposedly intended to "clarify" issues usually are tendentious, and the tendency is usually a nihilistic form of utilitarianism.

I hated baa's use of hypotheticals a little more than average, since I also disagree with him on the main issue, but not a lot more. It did closely resemble a kind of argument which is frequently used by hawks used to put doves on the spot, whether or not that was baa's intent.

I just don't find a value in arguing with baa, though I did it today. His position is hardened, my position is hardened, and I can't understand how he got to where he is, but frankly I'm not going to think about the whys and wherefores much.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 5:17 PM
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Whatever happened to Idealist?


Posted by: Stub | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 5:34 PM
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Michael, I think if you reread the beginning of thread, you'll see that baa's question was initially treated that way. People were basically saying `fundamentally bad question, because'. Then baa started to play the `ok, lets tweak the question a bit' without any sign of having read responses carefully... I think people got a bit pissy with baa then.

I agree with you in general that it doesn't help, but it wasn't unprovoked. baa insisted on pushing on with a fundamentally flawed though experiment, and one has to wonder why, after some of the flaws had been pointed out.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 5:37 PM
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Whatever happened to Idealist?

Mostly lurking, but almost always reading.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 5:37 PM
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Whatever happened to my five millions dollars?


Posted by: Stub | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 5:40 PM
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1) I love it when LB uses 'blessed' when she means 'goddamned.'
2) Tempers were a little heated because the scenario baa presented was quite unrealistic and reminiscent of lefty-baiting traps. ('Would you torture a blahdidyhoho if it saves Blahddiddy Hum Hum City?') Not every argument needs to be taken seriously, and a 'would you bomb Iran if there were less than 100 casualties and it wouldn't destablize the Mideast' is out in little red teapot land of plausible possible worlds.
3) Please, not another article about how I (or anyone else) need to learn to be charitable.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 5:48 PM
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298, I don't know the guy, but the question itself was a leading question. I don't know if he intended to abuse it and I tried to be careful not to accuse him of that. The question, however, was disingenuous without the need for a followup.

Sorry if I stepped on anyone's toes, anyway.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 5:49 PM
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300: The original source may be as ogged says in 301, but it's been popularized by the Simpsons to the point that young people (in the circles I run in at least) actually do say "meh" just as it's spelled.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 6:07 PM
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Jeez, this place is starting to feel like Obsidian Wings.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 6:23 PM
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I say "meh" all the time. I think I was saying it before the Simpsons, too. [/farb]


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 09-22-06 8:30 PM
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Hey, glad I checked back in on this thread.

Thanks to Michael, to ogged, alameida, and to Tim for the kind words (and if there are others I missed, thanks to you too).

I am still trying to anatomize what went wrong here. And I think it may ultimately come down to ogged’s favorite topic of ‘what kind of place is this.’ I was half joking, but only half, when I suggested LB mark with an asterix her posts on which debate was welcome. One wouldn’t go to a site devoted to pro-life activism and ask pose hypotheticals about when abortion might not be so bad, just as one wouldn’t likely go about questioning the morality of abortion on a pro-choice activism site. That’s not what those venues are for, and people not with the program shouldn’t interrupt the conversation.

On source of trouble, then, is that the thread arising out of LB’s post seemed to function in a dual role: both as a conversation and as a forum for activism. I at times got the sense that people were primarily interested in expressing their outrage and certainty, and that I was getting in the way. But maybe what I was really doing was derailing a plan for action, or at least disrupting a consciousness-raising session. That would be the wrong thing to do, and I will try to avoid doing it again when I get a sense a thread is tending that way.

Of course, my own carelessness is to blame as well. I didn’t spend 20 minutes crafting the hypo in 23, to be sure. And I see from the way it struck even charitably-minded people like Cala that this contributed to the problem. But the degree to which people flew off the handle makes me think phrasing wasn’t the main problem. That poor 4 line hypothetical got accused of stipulating things (no strategic blow-back, no civilian casualties) on which the phrasing was either silent or in fact explicitly contravened. Better still, LB accused it of stipulating facts that made an air strike a ‘magically a good idea’, even though she objects to an airstrike even with those stipulations in place. You just can't hold both these positions. Either a) the hypothetical makes an air strike a magically good idea (fall-out ponies!) and one would agree with it given those stipulations, or b) it doesn’t make the air strike a magically good idea and even if the stipulations are granted the air strike could remain a bad idea. (incidentally, the later is my position). But again, you can only pick one of those options; if you disagree with the course of action even with the stipulations, those stipulations just can’t make it a magically good idea. That’s the error I thought was “beneath” LB. But it’s a topic that evokes strong feelings so instead of making that response - which was by no means placating - I should have just explained why I thought LB was in error. My mistake.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09-23-06 9:20 PM
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