Topic: Couldn't be so...
Alarmists and Others: When to Worry, When to Not Worry
The alarmist, an often angry and impulsive man, is Scott Ritter, the former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq who was ticked Saddam Hussein was making it hard for the inspectors, then said there were no weapons of mass destruction and something else must be going on - the war was a bad idea and he said "don't do it." Then we "did it" he became a major critic of the administration. He's a military man - twelve years in the Marines as in intelligence officer, advisor to General Norman Schwarzkopf in the first Gulf War, voted for Bush first time around, was a security and military consultant for the Fox News folks. But he got fed up.
And he was ridiculed mercilessly in the days before the current Iraq War was launched - charges he was a child molester and, if not, at least unhinged, and maybe he was gay. The war crowd couldn't say he was French. He came from a military family and went to college in Pennsylvania (Franklin and Marshall), but he got hammered. He was not happy. Unfortunately, he was right. Fox News dropped him of course.
Should we listen to him? Perhaps he has the right to say "told you so" and all that.
Now with the new war with Iran about to begin, he's saying the same sort of thing.
Well, actually, fourteen months ago he was saying the Iran War was in the works. On February 18th, 2005 he told an audience in Washington that George Bush had signed-off on preparations to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, and that these preparations would be completed by June of 2005.
But we didn't drop the big one on them. That was almost a year ago. So he can be wrong.
But see this -
Of course there may be nothing wrong with that. We should be prepared for anything - think of the Boy Scout motto.
But what to make of what he said just two months ago (February 6)?
Ritter says it's going to play out the same way. The UN will say Iran won't have nukes for a long time and we'll say we have evidence they could have them next week or something, and our new "call them all fools and mock them" UN ambassador, John Bolton, will say we'll do what we must - "We just don't know when, but it's going to happen. [Bolton] will deliver a speech that has already been written. It says America cannot allow Iran to threaten the United States and we must unilaterally defend ourselves. How do I know this? I've talked to Bolton's speechwriter."
Ritter is an alarmist. We seek a diplomatic solution. All else is "wild speculation." Yeah, we said that the last time. But this time we mean it.
But Ritter is at it again, with this, pointing out that Iran isn't close to developing a nuclear weapon, and is still a member of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, so we're where we were before. War is in the air, for no good reason.
There's this -
The details are at the link, but that's the general idea. But we're off to war again. And that's because -
Yes, but he's an alarmist.
Of course, the thought of the United States launching a nuclear war on a nation that hasn't attacked us, but might attack us, or attack Israel, does alarm some people. And the thought of what seems inevitable following that - a regional all-out war over there, or an actually third world war, and every nation in the world deciding we're a "rouge state" and hoards of new terrorists blowing up this and that across America and Europe - does alarm some folks. The administration can argue all they want that the western world would actually applaud us for being so decisive and bold, removing a real threat to all, and the Arab world would realize no one messes with us and finally behave, and the Persians in Iran (they're not Arabs) would rise up and overthrow their leaders who got them into the whole mess and got them irradiated. Stranger things have happened. But people are still alarmed. The administration can argue that even if all that happens, we had to do what we had to do, and the price, even world war, was worth it. That's more comforting?
It seems the administration does recognize the idea of war with Iran - massive bombing to take out their nuclear faculties, and the matching airstrikes to take out their air defenses (their air force, ground radar and antiaircraft missiles), and the necessary airstrikes to take out their command, control and communications centers - even without the nukes could seem a bit counterproductive.
So we get this, Thursday, April 20 - "US intelligence chief John Negroponte said Iran's resumption of uranium enrichment is "troublesome" but the country is still years away from having enough fissile material to make a nuclear weapon."
That should get people to relax, unless it part of a sucker-punch. You never know.
But then, we will not talk with Iran, one-on-one. Yes, the Republican head of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Richard Lugar, has said we should. We do have a State Department that does such things. But not any longer. We ask the UN to talk, and the European nations. We sit back and wait for them to fail. What's up with that?
Kevin Drum over at the Washington Monthly has some ideas here. As typical of what's on the net these days, he digs up old stuff and puts two and two together.
First, back in 2003, six days after that "Mission Accomplished" business on the deck of the aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego, he recalls that the Associated Press reported without elaboration that Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman had confirmed that "Iran has exchanged messages with U.S. officials about Iraq through the Swiss Embassy, which represents U.S. interests in Tehran. He declined to give details."
But no one was thinking of Iran back then, right?
Then, from January of this year, he finds, from Flynt Leverett, who worked for Condoleezza Rice when she was the National Security Advisor, before she moved over to State, this -
Third, a month later in Newsday, he finds this -
And fourth, three weeks ago there was this -
What's that all add up to? The Iranians want to talk and work things out. We don't. For three years we've refused, or Cheney and Feith have, and it doesn't really matter what Iran does or doesn't do - the objective is not to stop their nuclear program at all, but to remove their government. So the whole "realist" thing, working with another nation to figure out a way so both sides get some of what they want and no one looks foolish or weak, sometimes called diplomacy, is not what we do.
Drum - "With that as background, here's my suggestion: quit letting Cheney's crackpots run foreign policy and talk to Iran. After all, the administration's ideologues killed an opportunity to ratchet down tensions three years ago, and since then things have only gotten worse: Iran has elected a wingnut president, they've made progress on nuclear enrichment, gained considerable influence in Iraq, and increased their global economic leverage as oil supplies have gotten tighter. So why blow another chance? If the talks fail, then they fail. But what possible reason can there be to refuse to even discuss things with Iran - unless you're trying to leave no alternative to war?"
So is this "capitalism gone mad," as Ritter would have it - a new war is necessary to feed the beast? Or is this a Cheney thing - he has a theory of how to deal with the world, and a small team to back him up, and a simple-minded, easily-manipulated figurehead president he can push around, so we just don't do that girly-men diplomacy crap but rather remove the governments around the world that bother us and get something more pliant in their place?
Or is it political, as on Thursday, April 20, there was new polling - "President Bush's job approval rating slipped this week and stands at a new low of 33 percent approve, down from 36 percent two weeks ago and 39 percent in mid-March." And that was the Fox News poll.
People always rally around the president in times of war. Maybe that's the last resort here, a war.
And what to make of Peggy Noonan, the former Reagan speechwriter, who now writes for the Wall Street Journal, saying things like this -
Yipes. The political climate is not nice these days.
How bad? People are worrying about the next thirty-three months, like Greg Mitchell of Editor and Publisher saying here that "no matter which party they generally favor or political stripes they wear" we all need to confront the fact that "America faces a crisis almost without equal in recent decades."
Here's the idea -
Well, yes, that may be why Republicans want some high-level staff changes at the White House, but then Mitchell points out the Democrats have no incentive to wish anything changes. That's their ticket to getting the House and Senate back.
But the changes are cosmetic and of course the Democrats are saying little and doing less.
Now what do we have?
A mess -
Friedman has his suggestions. Dump Rumsfeld. Talk with Iran. Get some new players at the White House, not the same guys at different desks.
Mitchell says this backs away from "the scary wider view." It "leaves hanging the reality of Bush continuing to serve as Master and Commander of the Iraq war and all other foreign policy into 2009."
Yep, it does. What to do?
Mitchell has no idea, "although all pleas for serious probes, journalistic or official, of the many alleged White House misdeeds should be heeded." He just thinks its time to say we really do have a crisis and starting some sort of national dialogue about "exploring ways to confront it" might be a good idea.
But then these are alarmists.
Maybe everything is fine. That would be either the optimist's view, or that of the delusional - it hardly matters which. What's the problem?
Then again, maybe there's nothing that can be done, as our system is set up the way it is, and those in power will remain there for a few more years, no matter what anyone thinks, doing whatever they wish with no opposition, as the nominal opposition finds it useful to let them sink. That would be the cynic's view, or that of the coldly realistic - we will nuke Iran and what happens after that just happens. One deals with it.
And two influential journalists say something should be done, but the first offers what is really minor and probably what will not ever happen anyway, and the second says he has no idea what should be done, but we all ought to talk.
And Scott Ritter is angry again.
And that's the report. Where do you fall?