Friday, June 20, 2008

More on Yglesias and Iran 
I meant to get to this this morning when I wrote the first post on the Cesspool at the Atlantic, below:

Another mistake Yglesias makes commenters make - actually, a huge gaping maw in his argument, but it's a very common mistake on the left - is assuming that US power would necessarily neutralize an Iranian bomb because of our nuclear deterrent. Iran would not commit national suicide by actually using it. Here's Matt:

This aside, the idea that any Iranian leader would commit national suicide in order to harm Israel is ridiculous. Lots of “crazy” leaders -- Stalin, Mao, Kim Jong Il -- have had nuclear weapons and they've never done anything like that. What's more, if Iran wanted to start a war with Israel, kill a bunch of Jews, and get wiped out in the process they could do that with conventional weapons. But in more than 20 years in power, the Islamic Republic's never done any such thing. Indeed, just over the weekend Iran announced it would offer up a paltry $50 million in aid to the new Hamas-ified Palestinian Authority compared with many hundreds of millions in funding the PA lost from Europe and the United States. Just as they taught me in Hebrew school, the Islamic world's governments like to talk a big game about Israel, but don't actually give a rat's ass about the issue and never have.

They'll do anything to help the Palestinian cause unless it involves spending money, risking the stability of their own regimes, or deploying their military assets. Now we're supposed to believe that, suddenly, the Mullahs are willing to guarantee their own destruction in order to turn the holy city of Jerusalem into a radioactive wasteland. That's absurd.

That's naive.

Modern warfare is different from warfare just a few years ago. Iran, via Quds Force and Hezbollah, maintains a vast network of shadowy proxies more than willing to commit murder and genocide on Iran's behalf. Iran needn't put an obvious fingerprint on a WMD attack on Israel, or anyone else they choose. All they need is plausible deniability.

Yglesias fails to consider the nature of war by proxy. But the existence of nonstate terror networks, led by religious fanatics with a martyr complex, or at least led by those who can and do successfully recruit same, combined with nuclear proliferation, turn the concept of Mutual Assured Destruction on its head.

We've already seen the idea at work. The Taliban were perfectly willing to commit national suicide, at least as far as their regime was concerned, because of Al Qaeda.

Further, a limited nuclear strike need not level the whole city of Jerusalem. Just a few key blocks of it. If they strike while Knesset is in session, or if they just get lucky with the timing, they can actually go a long way toward decapitating the Israeli government. It's not all about 25 Megaton Warheads, Matt. We have tactical nuclear weapons, too, with much smaller yields, and they can be loaded onto vehicles as small as an artillery shell.

It's time to update your strategic thinking.

Splash, out


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Now we're talking.
That's naive.
--It's not just naive. It's factually dubious. Yglesias claims that practical support from Iran to Hamas is lacking and not in their interest. That doesn't explain the history of dealings between Hamas and the Islamic Republic since 1990:


Nor does it do justice to the moral support lent to Hamas by Iranian missives, which independent Arab papers have remarked on for some time:


The Islamic Republic sent money to Hamas, and it risked the very existence of its regime by enforcing unpopular religious mandates and encouraging one calamitous war with Iraq (arguably even attempting to start another). Iran deployed trainers and weapons systems in Lebanon on behalf of sympathetic movements like Hizbullah and, once upon a time, Amal. Hamas, Hizbullah, and the Islamic Republic all cite the existence of Israel as abominable and seek its removal - which invites retaliation from Israel and is a direct threat to the health and welfare of all three groups.

Yglesias' schmaltzy remark about Hebrew shool is not apt. Iran is fast becoming more Kosher than the rabbi as far as Palestinian and Lebanese "liberation" is concerned. To assume that the Iranian "rebbe" isn't encouraging the "flock" to slowly further the end everyone else wants is questionable to say the least.
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