Saturday, February 6, 2010

What Do You Expect Iran To Do?

I just watched Jon Stewart on O'Reilly. There's an unedited version here in mp4 format. That's the on I saw.

It's an interesting interview. One question that O'Reilly raised concerned Iran. He wants to know Stewart's thoughts. Is he scared of Iran? Should we consider violence against them to curb their nuclear capacity?

Stewart's reply is basically there are a lot of scary places in the world and we don't have the resources to go in and stop them forcefully. O'Reilly seemed to agree.

My view is a little different. I definitely don't want to see Iran with nuclear weapons. Iran is comprised of people that are amongst the most extreme of Islamic fundamentalists. No sane person wants nuclear weapons in the hands of such people. On the other hand there are immediate things that can be done to reduce the likelihood that they will acquire weapons.

Take a look at this map of the Middle East and note which countries are on Iran's borders. Among them are Iraq, where the U.S. has removed the previous government and installed a client regime, and in the process killed probably hundreds of thousands of people at a minimum. Then there's Afghanistan where the U.S. has removed the previous government and installed a client regime, and further wrecked an already wrecked country. Also there is Pakistan which had been ruled by a U.S. backed military dictator since 1999. Since then there have been "elections." Without going in to the details I'll just say that it's another puppet regime. Despite this Obama has expanded U.S. aggression in Pakistan.

So what would you expect a regime like what is in Iran to do if they want to sustain their grip on power when they are frequently being threatened by a state that has conquered many of the nations at it's borders? If they are sane they will probably attempt to acquire as many powerful weapons as they can. Our violence on their borders would quite naturally be their primary motivation to acquire these dangerous weapons.

O'Reilly is concerned about Iran. I am too. But Iran hasn't committed an act of aggression against another state in hundreds of years, unlike the United States and Israel. Lost among O'Reilly's spin is the fact that recently the IAEA passed a resolution calling on Israel to join the IAEA and open up it's nuclear weapons facilities to safety inspections for stability in the Middle East. Iran is a member. Iran has opened up it's nuclear sites to IAEA inspectors. Israel refuses. If it makes sense to threaten Iran, which doesn't have the aggressive history, why doesn't it make sense to threaten Israel, which does have an extremely aggressive history and in fact today occupies foreign territory by force?


HispanicPundit said...

Because the head of Iran is a wacko...I know he doesnt hold much power, but he certainly speaks for some.

He has publicly denied the holocaust. Said he wanted to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. And is in general hostile.

Israel, on the other hand, is a Democratic country. Fundamentally morally different.

Im not saying we should attack Iran. I think that would be a mistake. But these points should not be ignored, either.

Jon said...

The whole point of my post here is that their response is not irrational. Your response is an assertion that he's a "wacko." There's nothing wacko about his nuclear ambitions.

Haven't I corrected your assertion about his claim that he wanted to wipe Israel off the map? Maybe it was someone else. Anyway that's totally false.

As far as Holocaust denial, he's quoted as saying that he's not denying that it happened at all. He's questioning the extent of it. So when he calls it a "myth" he's probably referring to what he thinks is an incorrect claim about how many died. He's also critical of European countries for jailing those that would question it. He held a conference in Iran to provide an opportunity for people to speak freely about it. This was described as a "Holocaust Denial Conference" but he says it was an opportunity for people to express their views freely whatever they were without threat of state penalties. Personally I don't think that's all that wacko. If people were jailed for denying the Civil War in America I would expect some people to respond to that with denial that it really happened. They'd wonder why there was such a radical response to the questioning of a historical claim. These laws are probably fueling holocaust denial. I don't think you have to be crazy to react that way. And threatening to bomb them for this (and I know you aren't, but everyone that advocates bombing them always brings up his holocaust denial) is like bombing America since so few here believe in evolution. It's a denial of the obvious, but so what? This isn't a threat to anyone.

I'm reading about the media portrayal of Vietnam. The resistance was always "crazed, fanatical, barbarous, cruel." Basically not just evil, but lunatics. So this is standard propaganda. The state wants you to believe that Iran is crazed, but my argument here is that their behavior is not crazed.

HispanicPundit said...

Its the context that matters. Your civil war analogy completely misses the point.

Its in the context of a hatred of Israel. It flows naturally from such a view. In fact, I bet the correlation between those who hate Jews and those that deny the holocaust, or the extent of it, is pretty high...well above 0.9.

In other words, it helps support the argument that this guy is run by blind emotion. Wacko.

HispanicPundit said...

Btw, I left a comment on your Iraqi deaths link. Its awaiting moderation.

Jon said...

Once again, their attitude towards nuclear weapons is not crazed.

HispanicPundit said...

But their leader is. ;-)

HispanicPundit said...

You write, Haven't I corrected your assertion about his claim that he wanted to wipe Israel off the map? Maybe it was someone else. Anyway that's totally false.

Here is the proof, easily googleable. here and here.

You write, As far as Holocaust denial, he's quoted as saying that he's not denying that it happened at all. He's questioning the extent of it

Here is the proof, again easily googleable. See here and here.

Jon said...

Do you read your own links? You said that "he wanted to wipe Israel off the face of the earth." That's not true. He never threatened to do anything and he has no capacity to do anything. He did say he would like to see the Israeli state disappear. Your second link says there is debate about whether that should be translated as he would want them to disappear or be "wiped out". But in either case he never said he had any intention of wiping them out.

For a fuller understanding of his views go here. That's Andrew Sullivan who in turn provides links to may citations from Ahmadinejad on Israel and his view is clear. Just like the Soviet Union disappeared so he hopes Israel will disappear. The Soviet Union was not wiped out by nuclear conflict but by collapsing under their own weight. There's a big difference between that and the line you are passing (repeating from Pravda) that implies Ahmadinejad is threatening Israel. Pravda may go further than you in thinking this justifies aggression, but your claim is still from Pravda and it is false.

With regards to your links on holocaust denial, it's the same story. He questions whether it is a "real" event, but this doesn't mean it didn't happen at all. That sounds to me like he's saying he questions the extent of it, but who knows. Here's the quote I was referring to:

Ahmadinejad stated "I'm not saying that it didn't happen at all. This is not judgment that I'm passing here"

Once again you are quick to interpret his words in an uncharitable way just like Pravda does. And it just so happens that these misunderstandings serve the interests of state power.

HispanicPundit said...

Did I read the link??? Did YOU!

Here is the concluding remark of the second link from the NY Times:

So did Iran's president call for Israel to be wiped off the map? It certainly seems so. Did that amount to a call for war? That remains an open question.

Whats interesting is that the presidents own translators continue to take a more hardline interpretation than his defenders.

Sure, maybe the addition of "he" is too strong, but that's certainly not definitively the case. Though Jon certainly claims so.

I encourage everybody interested to read all the links I provded. Then read Jon's defense and see who is being more reasonable.

I know I feel like I am on firm ground here.

Now if Jon would only give the United States the same benefit of the doubt here...the debates would be alot more fair. :-)

Jon said...

Your evidence that Ahmadinejad said he wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth is that the New York Times asks whether or not his statement is a call for war? It's not a quote from his mouth? Did you read the link I provided with extensive statements from him about Israel?

Jon said...

And let's note also that the basis of your claim is one ambiguous quote variously translated which must be interpreted in a manner contrary to the many statements that are not vague. On the other hand Israel openly and unambiguously calls for the bombing if Iran. The latter is not a problem but the former is.

HispanicPundit said...

I googled more and found this on his denial of the holocaust.

He said, "They have created a myth today that they call the massacre of Jews and they consider it a principle above God, religions and the prophets."

But when pressed about this, your explanation is that Ahmadinejad is really questioning the extent of the holocaust scientifically, like "If people were jailed for denying the Civil War in America I would expect some people to respond to that with denial that it really happened."

The fact that there is a STRONG connection between the two statements, namely the denial of the holocaust and Israel being wiped off the face of the earth, completely escapes you. That is what I find disturbing.

Seriously Jon, its like if you have lost all common sense when it comes to foreign policy. You dont look at facts honestly anymore - you want them to fit your paradigm. Its really obvious to those of us reading the same information you present here.

Jon said...

What you call "losing common sense" I call recognizing the propaganda model that describes our media. Here's what I think about when I see the claim that Ahmadinejad wants to blow up Israel and denies the holocaust. I recognize that our government has had a long standing opposition to the Iranian government. Ever since they cast aside the dictator we had imposed on them in 1979 the U.S. has been looking for ways to re-install a puppet government.

You remember that big scary incident in the Straits of Hormuz where these tiny Iranian speedboats threatened our enormous warships? Video was made available with ominous voices saying something like "You will blow up soon." This was big enough that while discussed during the Republican debate (transcript here) the contenders tried to one up one another to see who was toughest against Iran. Huckabee was going to send them to the gates of hell. Thompson said he'd send them to see those virgins they seem to be so fond of. God bless Ron Paul's reasonable response, which turned out to be true though he was mocked by Brit Hume for his displeasure at the candidates threatening poses.

Turns out the whole thing was a joke (notice it's covered in foreign press). The Navy spliced together audio from a different incident to make things seem scary. American press perpetuates the initial false story and creates the fear, but the retraction is quite limited if not non-existent. This fits the propaganda model. This is exactly what you would expect.

You repeat the line that Pravda wants you to say. Ahmadinejad himself has threatened to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. That's false. He never did. But our media certainly does create that impression. That fits the propaganda model.

And the fact that you said HE wants to do it is a big deal. I may want the Uzbekistan right wing regime to disappear, but I don't advocate violence against them. It's the difference between a general wish and an actual threat. That's a big difference. My propaganda model would say that the media would be happy to perpetuate belief in the false former claim. That is, the claim you made.

So when I look at the holocaust claim, I will admit that you are right that I'm interpreting him charitably. I think he doesn't believe that Jews were not rounded up and exterminated in any sense. But I could be wrong. The quote I offered from him doesn't go into details. Maybe he denies it in the sense you mean. But I hesitate to accept that because I know it's what Pravda wants us to think, so I await an unambiguous statement from him. He may offer it and I'll at that point concede it, but I don't think the present evidence justifies the conclusion.

Jon said...

Did you read the link from Sullivan and various quotes he linked to?

HispanicPundit said...

But sometimes a rock is just a rock. I think in this case, he really is a nut job.

Yep - read the Sullivan post. Fine, but it still has to be weighed with the evidence from the NY Times link. Its debatable. What I find interesting, as I said above, is that A's (by A I mean president of Iran, im tired of spelling it) own translators seem to take a hardline stance, much harsher than what his American based translators give him. And he doesnt go out of his way to clarify - yet he knows how many are interpreting him.

Also, all of these views come together. They CANNOT be seen in isolation. His dubious views regarding Israels place HAVE TO be taken into account WITH his views on the holocaust. It points to a man driven by rage and emotion, certainly not by logic. A dangerous man.

With that said, overall Im open to his more nuanced stance on Israel but I still think he is a loon. And the fact that you dont, makes me question your judgment.

Jon said...

When you call someone a loon what you do is you prepare people to put them down violently. Loons can't be reasoned with, so force is required. So Native Americans were savages. The Vietnamese were these crazed lunatics. Those that object to U.S. foreign policy in the middle east and react violently are Muslim extremists that love death and want nothing more than to kill themselves for 72 virgins. Once again, this is a common propaganda technique.

I don't think he's a loon in the sense that if he gets nukes he's just going to use them in irrational ways. Iran's acquisition of them is rational. Also it is a fact that the Holocaust is used by the Israeli government to perpetuate their crimes. If you had Shiite brethren in Lebanon getting slaughtered and if you lived in a country under constant threat of destruction at the hands of Israel and you saw how they used the holocaust to perpetuate their crimes you might become prone to deny the holocaust as well. Especially in light of the fact that questioning this propaganda tool is a crime. I can see how he could come to this conclusion from his perspective. So no, I don't think he's a loon. He's a calculating smart man. He knows how to retain his grip on power (as he does now with violence). He knows how to do what it takes to sustain power, and he would know that an attack on Israel would be the end of his grip on power.

HispanicPundit said...

So let me ask you a direct question: Say that A gets nukes, Iran joins the list of countries with nuclear power. Based on what he has said so far, you dont think there is a greater than 30% chance that he will use them on Israel?

Speaking of conspiracy theories, have you heard about the connection between Arabs and the holocaust? See here and here. Based on that knowledge, I could see why Jews see Arabs the way they do. :-)

Jon said...

To be clear I think it would be a disaster if he did get nukes, which is the point of my post here, so I wish the U.S. and Israel would stop doing the things that naturally lead him to drive to get nukes. It was the same with Saddam. Israel bombed the Osirik reactor. The reactor wasn't capable of nuclear weapons development according to the experts that examined the site after the bombing. However he did initiate a nuclear program at that point in reaction to the Israeli bombing. That's to be expected.

I don't think he's any more likely to nuke anybody than any other nuclear power. As I said he's a calculating tyrant. If he were to nuke Israel it would be suicide. I don't think he's suicidal.

Also Iran doesn't have the aggressive history of the U.S. and Israel, so prima facie you'd have to think Israel and the U.S. are more likely to nuke somebody than anybody. Take a look at the countries the U.S. has bombed over the years. As much as I don't want to see A with nukes I also say let's take a look at the beam in our own eyes.

I'll try and get to your links.