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The Race for Iran

ON THE COSTS OF A U.S.-IRANIAN MILITARY CONFRONTATION

Since launching www.TheRaceForIran.com, we have very rarely intervened in the comments that many of our readers have written with regard to our pieces.  However, in response to the piece we published on May 25, “Obama Steps Up America’s Covert War Against Iran”, one reader seemed to misconstrue passages from one of our previous articles regarding Iranian military capabilities and the consequences of a prospective U.S.-Iranian military confrontation.   

We have indeed written previously (in 2008) that “the United States is and will remain vastly superior to Iran in every category of military power, conventional or otherwise.  Almost thirty years after the Iranian revolution, the Islamic Republic is incapable of projecting significant conventional military force beyond its borders, and would be severely challenged to mount even a conventional defense against U.S. invasion.”  We continue to believe that this is an accurate assessment of the U.S.-Iranian military balance.  However, we draw some very different policy implications from this assessment than does a particular reader. 

–First, a proper assessment of Iranian military capabilities should put to rest the constantly recycled, hyperbolic rhetoric in the United States and some quarters of the Middle East about the Iranian “threat” to peace and security.  Iranians correctly point out that their country has not invaded any of its neighbors for centuries—and, since 1979, they have not developed the military capabilities that would let them carry out large-scale offensive operations, which we think is to their credit.     

–Second, we believe that it would be profoundly wrong-headed for this assessment of the U.S.-Iranian military balance to be used as justification for U.S. military action against the Islamic Republic.  To quote Talleyrand, such an outcome would be “worse than a crime—it would be a mistake”. 

To elaborate on the second point:  We judge that, in any large-scale conventional engagement between U.S. and Iranian military forces—on the ground, in the air, or at sea—the United States would prevail, in a short run, battlefield outcomes sense.  But we also judge that the United States would not achieve any positive strategic gain by initiating a military confrontation with the Islamic Republic—an action that would almost certainly be a crime as well as a mistake.  (For the record, we think crimes are bad, too.) 

Moreover, we believe that Iran has an enormous capacity for “asymmetric” resistance to armed violations of its sovereignty.  If an American President were ever so foolish as to order an invasion of the Islamic Republic, U.S. military forces would get bogged down in a horrible occupation that would make what American troops experienced in Iraq seem like a picnic by comparison.  In a long-term, strategic sense, the United States would surely lose such a conflict.  Even if an American president opts “only” to launch air and/or missile strikes against Iranian targets, Iran has ways to put substantial (and effective) pressure on American positions in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  Again, the outcome would be a net loss for the United States.

Furthermore, any wars that the United States chooses to fight in the Middle East in the future will be fought on borrowed money—money borrowed from creditors like China and Saudi Arabia that will not be amused by Washington undertaking a military initiative that would be so harmful to their own interests.  Starting a war with Iran would “break the back” of America’s increasingly strained superpower status—just as surely as the British mistake of invading Egypt and seizing the Suez Canal in 1956 (with help from France and Israel, to be sure) forever ended the United Kingdom’s claims to great power status.

As Americans, we hope our government will do better than that—in strategic as well as moral terms.             

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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76 Responses to “ON THE COSTS OF A U.S.-IRANIAN MILITARY CONFRONTATION”

  1. Ilamia says:

    A Warm welcome to AN! “Liar, Liar, where is your 63%?”

    This many people showed up after they closed down all government offices and brought in people from IRGC.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJWnu0t3GuU&feature=player_embedded

  2. Joao C says:

    @Pirouz_2

    You’re the one hallucinating like the illegit president you’re so passionately defending. What “evidence” have you given other than the news feed of the IRI propoganda machine? Evidence my friend are the journalists, filmmakers, students, doctors and reformist politicians in prison. Evidence is banned newspapers, publications, books, and full control of the IRIB. Evidence is disqualification of reform candidates. Evidence is the missing one billion US dollars. Evidence is high inflation rate and the high unemployment rate. Evidence is life in Iran. Links to abstract websites and articles by foreign IRI apologists is not evidence. You’ve probably been away from Iran for so long that even a non-Iranian with frequent visits knows more than you do.

    No government who is confident it has support of the majority feels the need to act the way the IRI is acting. Your “evidence” is nothing but a series of justifications. Where is the 24,000,000 votes Ahmadinejad received? I don’t see it on the streets of Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz and Mashad. I don’t see it on the University campuses. Instead of Fars news you might as well start smoking crack.

  3. pirouz_2 says:

    @joao C:

    “Who said anything about me being a Green or even an Iranian?!”

    Ah! So you are not Iranian? No wonder you know so little about Iran! So I take my word back about you needing anti-hallucinogic medication (but that advice remains the same for Iranian greens because they hallucinate!); instead you need to learn about Iran before talking and passionately expressing unsubstantiated views about something you know this little about.

    “The second it becomes difficult for you to defend the IRI you turn personal and go on a rampage calling me names and accusing me of most outlandish of things you can accuse me of.”

    I never defended IRI for any wrongs that they may have done. All I said was that they had the support of majority of Iranians and that this claim of “fraud” was a bogus claim made up by the reformists and the West.

    I didn’t accuse you of anything “outlandish” either. I said that you needed anti-hallucinogic medications and that was in light of wierd claims such as “shah could gather crowds of 100′s of 1000s in 1979″ or that I “justified” governments crackdown on the greens (I have always been against that, in fact I found it brutal and even anti-democratic) or that “people from villages were brought from remote villages to Tehran by the promise of sandwiches and beverages to participate in pro-government rallies” or that “Mousavi and Karoubi were under house arrest”.

    Don’t make bogus claims which could be only the result of “hallucination” or PURE IGNORANCE and people won’t tell you take anti-hallucinogenic drugs.

    It is either hallucination or pure ignorance, which one do you prefer? or I guess both would be “name calling”? Calling a Shiite cleric a “mullah” is not “name calling”, it is just a simple expression of truth!

    “Very well… But it has now become clear to me what YOU are. You are probably some 40-50 year old Iranian expatriat who has amounted to nothing in your life outside of Iran. You were not able to make a good life for yourself and this has made you bitter. So you spend your time bashing on the “evil West” while defending one of the most horrific human rights offenders just because deep down you like the idea of someone like Ahmadinejad standing up to the America that didn’t let you have the kind of life you always dreamed of. Well grow up. Only time will prove us right or wrong.”

    WOW, where did you get this accurate (!!) information about me? I guess from the same source which told you that Shah could gather 100′s of 1000s of supporters on the streets of Tehran in 1978? :-D

    “Should the GM prevail I’ll be sure to come back here to see what kind of crap you’re saying then…”

    Whenever you are able to bring any evidence in support of your claims first and foremost I (and I am sure everyone else on this site) will take you seriously, otherwise I am afraid most people will consider your claims to be the results of hallucination.

  4. Joao C says:

    @Pirouz_2

    Who said anything about me being a Green or even an Iranian?! The second it becomes difficult for you to defend the IRI you turn personal and go on a rampage calling me names and accusing me of most outlandish of things you can accuse me of. Very well… But it has now become clear to me what YOU are. You are probably some 40-50 year old Iranian expatriat who has amounted to nothing in your life outside of Iran. You were not able to make a good life for yourself and this has made you bitter. So you spend your time bashing on the “evil West” while defending one of the most horrific human rights offenders just because deep down you like the idea of someone like Ahmadinejad standing up to the America that didn’t let you have the kind of life you always dreamed of. Well grow up. Only time will prove us right or wrong. Should the GM prevail I’ll be sure to come back here to see what kind of crap you’re saying then…

  5. Neil M says:

    The “unclassified CDA” linked in Jay’s comment of 26/5, 4-52 PM, reads like the product of an alcohol fuelled Likudnik group-think orgy.

  6. pirouz_2 says:

    @Joao C:

    “Shah too had rallies where hundreds of thousands gathered to show their support for him. ”

    My friend NOW you are starting to completely re-write the history! This is indeed one of the biggest problems with the greens, all of their arguements are based on fantasy rather than reality!
    SHAH NEVER EVER COULD MUSTER 100′S OF 1000′S OF SUPPORTERS ON THE STREETS OF TEHRAN! (MIND YOU AT THE TIME TEHRAN’S POPULATION WAS BARELY 5 MILLION!)
    IN FACT THE RESULT OF REFERENDUM FOR ISLAMIC REPUBLIC IN 1979 WAS >98% FOR ISLAMIC REPUBLIC AND LESS TAHN 2% AGAINST IT, MIND YOU THAT COMMUNISTS VOTED AGAINST ISLAMIC REPUBLIC! YOU CAN VERY WELL IMAGINE WHAT A SMALL NUMBER PRO-MONARCHISTS CONSTITUTED!

    “Yes he called rallies of his opposition “illegal” as the IRI is doing now. The difference between …. To this day, as far as I know Mousavi and Karoubi and Khatami haven’t called for an overthrow, but rather reform.”

    This part was COMPLETELY irrelevant to what I had said, in fact I am wondering if you are able to read what I wrote at all??? Let me repeat it again:

    SHAHS GOVERNMENT NEVER GAVE ANY PERMISSION TO THE 1978 RALLIES, DID THAT STOP THEM???

    “They are not jailed in Evin, but jailed in their homes and in the country. As they kept Khatami from leaving the country for Japan. Their offices are closed, most the consultants are in prison and they are on constant watch.”

    I am sorry to say this but you are ranting. In fact you are hallucinating! Neither Khatami, nor Mousavi nor Karroubi is under house arrest! In case you don’t know, people were about to lynch Karoubi in Ghazvin, and had it not been for the interference the security forces to save him from the mob, by now he would have been six feet under the ground.

    Now I ask it again:
    KHOMEINI WAS IN EXILE AND HE HAD NO INTERNET ACCESS TO HIS FOLLOWERS, YOUR LEADERS ARE IN IRAN AND THEY ARE NOT IN JAIL, IN FACT THEY VERY OPENLY MAKE INTERVIEWS WITH FOREIGN MEDIA FROM WITHIN IRAN, AND THEY ALL HAVE THEIR OWN WEB SITES, WHY CAN’T THEY MOBILIZE THE 74 MILLION OF IRAN WHO WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT ARE GREEN!!! :-D

    “Furthermore, precisely BECAUSE of “internet” images of those killed got distributed like wildfire. …The internet may have helped her become a symbol of the GM, but it also helped the regime by frightening the masses. So every mother or father would keep their children from going to the street.”

    Ok for how long do you intend to create explanations out of thin air?
    تا کی میخوای از چوب دلیل بتراشی ؟
    So people in Iran were asleep and didn’t know that 10s of people were being killed routinely in Iran during 1978 and needed to see the bloody face of their children to be scared? The guy who saw the man next to him got his brain splattered on the wall as the G3 bullet hit his head, needed “internet” to be scared and stay off the streets?!?!?!

    HUNGRY PEOPLE ARE NOT AFRAID OF DEATH! THEY HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE! IT IS “EFFETE URBANITES” WHO SIT IN MOMMY AND DADDY’S THIRD OR FOURTH AUTO AND HONK THEIR HORNS IN PROTEST TO THE LACK OF FREEDOM FOR “MINI SKIRT” (AND LET’S BE HONEST THAT IS THE EXTENT OF YOUR OPPOSITION TO IRI) ARE THE ONES WHO WET THEIR PANTS WHEN THEY SEE A BLOODY FACE ON THE “INTERNET”!
    HAVE A LOOK AT THAILAND AND HOW THEY RESISTED TANKS AND LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EFFETE URBANITES IN “GREEN SHIRT” AND THE POVERTY STRIKEN MASSES IN “RED SHIRTS”! THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “GREEN” AND “RED”!

    “You’re justifying the killings because Shah did it too?! People had a revolution so that there would be no more Evin prisons and no more killings.”

    What is this NONSENSE that you are posting? You truly are in need of an anti-hallucinogenic medication because hallucinate and then attribute it to me!!!
    When did I say killing of even 100 or 50 or EVEN A SINGLE SOUL is “justified”??
    In fact crack down on you people was the biggest stupidity of the system! The answer to you people is not battons or bullets, but rather it is a good psychiatrist!!!

    “Rallies were scattered through-out 1978. It wasn’t like they had rallies every day. Same with the GM.”

    Again you are hallucinating! The action during 1978 was on a daily basis and it got intensified as each day passed despite the ever increasing pressure and brutal killings of people! In GM on the other hand we saw (those who live in the real world saw it) that demonstrations VERY QUICKLY DIED DOWN!

    “So you’re saying Ahmadinejad is like Hitler and his bussed in Basijis are like Hitler’s youth! You said it, not me! I wouldn’t go that far though. ”

    Ok, what am I supposed to tell you now?? THAT IS WHAT YOU UNDERSTOOD FROM WHAT I SAID?!?!?
    As I said the answer to your problems is not talking to me, the answer to you lays in the psychiatric wing of a good university hospital.

  7. Joao C says:

    @Pirouz_2

    I think you’re just picking fights! Arguing for argument’s sake and comparing apples with oranges. You can’t exactly compare Iran of 1978-1979 with Iran of 2009-2010. We were talking about the numbers of current government supporters vs. GM. Shah too had rallies where hundreds of thousands gathered to show their support for him. They were mainly staged much like the staged rallies of the IRI.

    “Shahs government never gave any permission to the 1978 rallies, DID THAT STOP THEM???”

    Yes he called rallies of his opposition “illegal” as the IRI is doing now. The difference between then and now is that back then people wanted regime change, a full-on revolution. But they have now learned a lesson and know better to not want a full-on revolution, but rather reform. They’ve learned to not have blind faith in what the future brings as they did in 1979. In 1979 all factions, be it the nationalists or the communists rallied behind the Ayatollah. They regretted it in no time! The GM started with a simple “Where’s My Vote?” slogan (change without overthrow) and only after the oppression advanced in more extreme slogans. To this day, as far as I know Mousavi and Karoubi and Khatami haven’t called for an overthrow, but rather reform.

    Moreover the Shah kept paying people on his government’s payroll even when they were on strikes. So for example when workers of National Radio and TV went on a strike for months, they continued getting paid. IRI learned from this lesson. They do as much smell opposition sympathy they do an inhouse cleaning, cut off pay and even go as far as making a person’s retirement money vanish. They even require government employees to attend rallies or else threaten pay cuts. Strikes are out of the question because people can’t afford to get food and they are too desparate.

    “1978 rallies’ leader -quite contrary to Mousavi and Karoubi who live in Iran and are not in jail- was not even in Iran and there was no “internet” to convey his messages to Iran. DID THAT STOP THE RALLIES?”

    They are not jailed in Evin, but jailed in their homes and in the country. As they kept Khatami from leaving the country for Japan. Their offices are closed, most the consultants are in prison and they are on constant watch.

    Furthermore, precisely BECAUSE of “internet” images of those killed got distributed like wildfire. So every mother who has a son or a daughter got to see image of Nedda Agha Soltan as blood ran down her face. The internet may have helped her become a symbol of the GM, but it also helped the regime by frightening the masses. So every mother or father would keep their children from going to the street. In 1979, such images didn’t exist. Images of Basijis beating young and old, images of security trucks running over people, images of moral police hitting girls in the face with baton did not exist.

    “All in all, the totality of the number of the killed in the last one year -including the victims of Kahrizak and the executions- amount to 100. Shah on 17th of Shahrivar ALONE killed ~100! On a daily basis he was killing the demonstrators, DID THAT STOP THE RALLIES?”

    You’re justifying the killings because Shah did it too?! People had a revolution so that there would be no more Evin prisons and no more killings. What was the point of having an Islamic Revolution if they continue with the Shah’s tactics or worse than Shah’s tactics? Rallies were scattered through-out 1978. It wasn’t like they had rallies every day. Same with the GM.

    “By the way, Adolf Hitler, rose to power with popular support (and there was no fraud in his election!). Nevertheless when he came to power he cracked down on the opposition, killing them en masse! Abd far from being disapproved his popularity even rose more!!!
    NOT BEING DEMOCRATIC DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU DON’T HAVE THE POPULAR SUPPORT!!!”

    So you’re saying Ahmadinejad is like Hitler and his bussed in Basijis are like Hitler’s youth! You said it, not me! I wouldn’t go that far though.

    =================

    “if there is going to be any social change and progress, it has to be under the leadership of the middle-class, and that will never happen for as long as the Iranian middle-class is living in a dream world, where it can gain popularity in Iran by colluding with Israelies or by shouting anti-populist and pro-American slogans on the streets of Tehran!”

    No one is colluding with anyone and no one is saying any pro-American slogans. It just happens that enemy of your enemy is perceived to be your friend! For 30 years they have shouted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” and it has come to the point that any criticism of the government will automatically make you pro-Israeli pro-American. It’s NOT about Israel and it’s not about America. It’s all about Iran and what’s right for Iran. If anything Ahmadinejad and his followers are making the life of Mussad and CIA much easier by always providing them with content to use against Iran. For as long as the Western media can use the type of rhetoric Ahmadinejad feeds them against Iran as a means to dehumanize Iran and Iranians nothing good will happen. And in regards to the middle-class… what middle-class?! Iranians are now either poor or super rich. The middle-class is non-existant. Perhaps you too should get it out of your head that all supporters of GM are middle-class northern Tehranis. Northern Tehranis are too much of a sissy to take up to the streets, they have too much to lose. The GM is is also made up of poor people in the urban areas. Like it or not.

    All that said, I say this for probably the fifth time here, if I am wrong and you are right — which may very well be the case — you need not worry. A popular regime/government will finds its way out of any situation and will stand tall to serve the interest of its people.

  8. pirouz_2 says:

    @joao c:

    By the way, if I keep talking to you guys, it is not because I have any doubts about Ahmadinejad’s popularity (I am not talking about his future popularity, I am talking about his CURRENT popularity).
    If I keep talking to you and people with the same mentality as you, it is because if there is going to be any change in the situation of Iran for the better, if there is going to be any social change and progress, it has to be under the leadership of the middle-class, and that will never happen for as long as the Iranian middle-class is living in a dream world, where it can gain popularity in Iran by colluding with Israelies or by shouting anti-populist and pro-American slogans on the streets of Tehran!

  9. pirouz_2 says:

    @joao C:

    Ahhhh…..here we go again!

    “And again, I stand by my point that the numbers game can only be played if the GM is given permission to rally. Only then can you compare the numbers. You saw millions on Khordad 25, you will tenfolds if a permission is granted. If you don’t think that’s the case, again, need not worry… Live on my friends!”

    Shahs government never gave any permission to the 1978 rallies, DID THAT STOP THEM???
    1978 rallies’ leader -quite contrary to Mousavi and Karoubi who live in Iran and are not in jail- was not even in Iran and there was no “internet” to convey his messages to Iran. DID THAT STOP THE RALLIES?
    All in all, the totality of the number of the killed in the last one year -including the victims of Kahrizak and the executions- amount to 100. Shah on 17th of Shahrivar ALONE killed ~100! On a daily basis he was killing the demonstrators, DID THAT STOP THE RALLIES?
    By the way, Adolf Hitler, rose to power with popular support (and there was no fraud in his election!). Nevertheless when he came to power he cracked down on the opposition, killing them en masse! Abd far from being disapproved his popularity even rose more!!!
    NOT BEING DEMOCRATIC DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU DON’T HAVE THE POPULAR SUPPORT!!!

  10. Joao C says:

    @ZigZag and Pirouz_2

    Are you guys even reading my posts?! I said if I am wrong and you are right, which could be a possibility, that’s great. I would welcome it. If majority of Iranians are happy with their system and love living in Iran who are we to judge anything? And I don’t see the point of you spending countless hours sweating over dispelling any “green propoganda.” The fact that a year has passed and you and pro-government news organizations and Iran’s national TV along with Press TV are still dedicating countless hours on how “sedition” has been defeated tells a different story. The fact that they are still threatened by anything from women’s hair to unmade films to politically active students and dedicated journalists tells a different story. The fact that they are outlawing political parties, blocking books by founders of the revolution at the book fair, not tolerating voices of even Khomeini’s family, of even a former Kayhan writer tells a different story. Considering all that, COMMON SENSE tells me that this government does not feel legit or confident. COMMON SENSE makes me question their scenarios. COMMON SENSE tells me that no government has ever been able to rule with fear forever. Just as political prisoners didn’t keep the Shah’s regime from falling, they won’t keep the IRI from collapsing. But if things are as you say, we need to worry about any of that.

    And again, I stand by my point that the numbers game can only be played if the GM is given permission to rally. Only then can you compare the numbers. You saw millions on Khordad 25, you will tenfolds if a permission is granted. If you don’t think that’s the case, again, need not worry… Live on my friends!

  11. pirouz_2 says:

    @Joao C

    No we don’t base our whole argument on some guy from CNN. We base our argument on COMMON SENSE and simple logic, on statistical data, on NUMEROUS POLLING RESULTS, and on our healthy pair of eyes and the memory of mass demonstrations of 1978!

    My friend, I have a great doubt that you have been to ANY multi-million demonstration. Have you ever seen the scenes of Haj Pilgrimage? In multi-million crowds, you become a drop in the ocean, and when they move you move too whether you like it or not.
    And take my word for it, the whole army of SHAH could not do a damn thing, MUCH LESS COULD DO the IRI’s para-militia. Multi-million demonstrations are not something “suppressible” by police forces or simple “militia” with assault rifles.
    It need HEAVY tanks supported by even helicopters from the air. And even then it is not guaranteed.
    Let me refresh your memory to the time when mousavi brought out roughly one million people outside, could basijis do a damn thing about that? What makes you think that if on 22 Bahman, you had the majority, that they were able to suppress you?

    WAKE-UP MY FRIEND, YOU ARE AN ABSOLUTE MINORITY IN IRAN! AND THE MORE YOU LIVE IN DENIAL, THE LESS LIKELY YOU WILL BE ABLE TO CHANGE THE REALITY IN THE FUTURE.

  12. ZigZag (Bussed-In Basiji) says:

    Joao C
    Check old blogs please. The contributers of the blog debunked the whole “Green Ninja Turtle” strategy b.s. about eight months ago. You’re a bit late. Incidentally, I was there too and only in your dreams was majority of people “greenies in disguise”. Accept defeat and get on with your life.

  13. Joao C says:

    @Humanist

    So your “evidence” is what a guy named Tom said on CNN and your own observation of the google image?!!! Tom said there are “people” on the streets and you concluded that these people are all pro-regime and therefore the regime has a huge following?!!!

    Which part of “I WAS THERE” did you not understand? Yes, there were people on the streets leading up to Azadi square. But they weren’t the pro-regime people you saw on Press TV coverage. Press TV coverage from the ground was limited to a handful of angles that combined with the aerial shots created the impression that there were a lot of pro-regime people. The mistake of the Green Movement on Feb. 11 was the idea of the Trojan Horse. They did not wear green so as to not draw attention to themselves. The problem was that with the heavy secruity presence individuals did not know at what point its safe to come out of the Trojan Horse! A big strategic blunder. Look closer on your “evidence” of the google image, and you see pockets of people who are kept from arriving at the main square. Look closer at the street north of Azadi square and you’ll see the people who were following Karoubi from Poonak Sq. who were shot on with tear gas.

    All that said, you can only play the numbers game the day the regime grants the GM movement their constituional right to assemble. If they really think GM is a small minority of northern Tehranis, why don’t they grant permission for them to assemble and be guaranteed their safety? Only then will you see their true numbers and only then can you really begin to compare. The fact that they never grant permission is a confession that they know they are the ones who have support of a minority…

  14. Humanist says:

    @ Joao C and all

    Surprisingly Tom Foreman of CNN showed in detail Satellite Images of marchers on Feb. 11. Not only the main 4 lane street was filled with people (about 4, 5 miles?), all the connecting streets were also full. I saw a picture of another 4 lane perpendicular street (Navvab) which is away from the Azadi square about 3 miles that was also full (another 2 miles of people).

    From Google Map I noticied there are about 50 connecting streets. Tom said something like this “most of them were filled with people”. Based on the above evidence alone I firmly believe the Feb. march was the largest ever.

    Once again….watch out, as Carl Sagan said “you can be a subject of ridicule if your extraordinary claims are not backed by extraordinary evidence”

  15. Joao C says:

    @Humane

    I didn’t see the February 11th march, I WAS THERE! Look closer on the Google image and you can almost spot me among the crowds to the right of the image (East of Azadi Sq) who were kept from attending the main event. I was surrounded by Greens! So don’t be fooled by what Press TV feeds you and the Leveretts stamp their approval on. I have been to Tehran many times over the past few years due to the nature of my business and I know Tehran and Tehranis well enough to know the difference between them and bussed in villagers! I also have traveled elsewhere in Iran and have in fact met people from remote villages surrounding the factory I used to deal with in South East Iran (our Brazilian company is now pulling out of Iran, can’t name it though, sorry! But if you’re smart enough you’ll figure it out soon enough) Yes, Ahmadinejad does have some followers in remote villages where they don’t know any better (can’t blame them considering what IRIB feeds them). But majority of Iranians support a more moderate government that is less corrupt. After the crackdown, even those who voted for Ahmadinejad have turned against him. At least that’s my understanding… Again, if likes of ZIGZAG are right and he’s in fact a popular president who will do the Iranian people some good, all the power to him! If he actually improves their quality of life, kudos to him and his cabinet. But I’ve only been exposed to the tip of the iceburg as far as the failings of his government goes. Judging just from what I’ve seen, I don’t see this government being able to last long. And that’s just from the economics stand point.

    @ZIGZAG

    There’s no point arguing with you about anything. You never consider that you could be wrong. I do. Like I said above, let’s hope you’re right and that millions of Iranians are living happy lives and the Ahmadinejad/Khamenei government is actually a just government that has support of a healthy majority. And let’s hope the Green Movement was just a fluke or a ploy of the CIA. In such dreamy scenario the Iranian people are now happy and the IRI will last for centuries to come… You keep justifying everything the IRI does, including all the imprisonments, show trials, forced confessions, rapes, killings, attacks on students, shutting down of publications and blocking of websites, beatings, etc. etc. etc. Let’s assume all these are lies as you say, you should be able to sleep well every night knowing that you have the support of the majority, right? Then sleep well my friend, for you need not to worry about any Greens being able to do a damn thing. And let’s hope the leaders you so passionately defend are able to sleep well at night too!

    @James

    Again, I agree with you. Let’s establish that I’m (a) against AIPAC, (b) against Israeli policies, (c) against neo-cons, (d) against Western media. But in my opinion Ahmadinejad is not someone who is standing in front of those, he’s acting like their pawn in a scheme to demonize Iran and Iranians. He’s best serving the interests of AIPAC and the likes, and no the interests of the Iranian people.

  16. James Canning says:

    ZigZag,

    Prince Bandar was appalled when a cabal of neocons in the Bush administration ran the Israel/Palestine peace process off the rails, particularly given the fact both sides had gotten fairly close to an agreement just days before G W Bush entered the White House. Bandar rightly sees the Israel/Palestine problem as the primarily threat to the peace of the Middle East. Even now, the neocons would be happy to set up a US war with Iran, if that would enable Israel to keep the Golan Heights and the West Bank.

  17. Humanist says:

    Correction:

    In my 2:26 Pm post instead of:
    yet Leveretts are not forging ahead.

    Read:
    yet Leveretts are not discouraged and are forging ahead.

  18. ZigZag (Bussed-In Basiji) says:

    Of course thta’s supposed to be 150 MILLION pounds a year. Adding it up since the early 1980s gives you a grand total of around 4 BILLION pounds. Nice.

  19. ZigZag (Bussed-In Basiji) says:

    James
    You know it’s hard to admire someone who gets a yearly stipend (also know as “bribe”) from BAE Systems of around 150 pound sterling a year since 1983 and then calls Blair to cancel the official judicial investigation of this latter matter in the UK. It’s hard to admire someone who had the MOST EXPENSIVE HOUSE IN THE US and at the same time claims to be a devout follower of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It’s hard to admire someone who after he is officially relieved of his duties as ambassodor in the US actually flies back to intervene with Condi in order to stop the new Iraq strategy the US govt. has agreed on with the new Saudi ambassador which led to the resignation of said new ambassador. Forget about all these gems of virtue or his sponsoring and financing the attack on Seyyed Fadlallah in Beirut which killed over 80 people, the main question is WHERE THE HELL IS HE NOW? WHERE IS PRINCE BANDAR? We’ve missed him so much, do tell us where he is (if the Saudis won’t chop your head off for telling?) Does his disappearance have anything to do with his attempt at a coup (you know people say the craziest things in the ME). Or could it be that the Saudis had to recently admit that they were sending agents to Iraq to coordiante with and finance salafist terror networks (and guess who was the main backer of this operation back in Saudi) Come on James, let us talk a little about Prince Bandar.

  20. Humanist says:

    @ Joao C

    If you want to be taken seriously you have, first, try to be impartial and fair and second, acquire enough credible knowledge to base your argument on

    Now, there is absolutely no doubt Ahmadinejad won the election with a very wide margin.

    In any election civilized people accept the will of majority no matter how deeply they resent the winner.

    Did American groups of statisticians (TFT and WPO of University of Maryland), the British (GlobeScan) and the Iranians pollsters of University of Tehran conspired to fabricate false results that later matched so CLOSELY with the actual election data?

    If your answer to that question is yes then you are like a devout voodoo worshiper, no one can convince you of the reliability of sciences of Statistic, Probability, Game Theory etc.

    Many around the world sympathize with anti-IRI protesters but facts prove they were used as pawns of the neocons to further demonize IRI, de-stabilize it and pave the way for another horrendous war. Google Search “iran pual craig roberts”, “iran leverett”, “iran Kenneth Timmerman”, “iran effort destabilize” etc. Read the posts as a student of history then you’ll find out what really happened in last June.

    Also..

    Do you know most probably, the march on February 11, 2010 in Tehran was the biggest ever in the recent history of Iran, larger than the day Khomeini arrived from exile?

    Ever asked yourself why, so many anti-IRI nationalists, leftists, atheists, even some who voted for Mousavi joined that march?

    My guess is, they saw the picture you seem to ignore. They saw the hands of foreigners in the Mousavi provocations who, similar to other Color Revolutions, declared victory before the counting of votes had ended ….and tones of other similar information.

    That march clearly showed when foreigners meddle in Iranian affairs they are going to face a phenomenally strong wall of resistence. That is what is discussed here as an element of a much bigger picture.

    Once again…. the points of arguments in this site (raised by Leveretts and backed by others here) are mainly on the folly of a war with Iran which is going to be detrimental to both sides and wisdom of respectful engagements which are, definitely beneficial to both sides.

    The opponents of the above arguments are frighteningly powerful yet Leveretts are not forging ahead.

    For variety of reasons I salute them with deep gratitude, regardless of the fact that I don’t necessarily agree with ALL of their beliefs or arguments.

  21. James Canning says:

    ZigZag,

    I am indeed an admirer of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, for a number of reasons. A fact little known about him is his strong hostility toward the neocons who created such a gigantic catstrophe in the Middle East while supposedly working for G W Bush. Bandar hoped the Aipac spying activities in the US would get more attention than they have, as a means of discrediting Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle and the others who conspired to set up the illegal invasion of Iraq.

  22. James Canning says:

    Joao C,

    The Iranian government fields a good number of articulate, able diplomats. They receive very little attention in US newspapers and network TV. This situation is not accidental. For many years, there has existed a conspiracy in the US news media to suppress news favorable to Iran and the government of Iran, and to play up distorted stories about Iran and its ogvernment that fit into the agreed narrative that Iran is a “bad boy” (meaning not friendly toward Israel, and unwilling to let Israel carry out its attempt to destroy the Palestinians as a nation).

  23. ZigZag (Bussed-In Basiji) says:

    Bill
    I appreciate your tone and your desire to learn. In brief, you are wrong or misinformed on about every point you make. I will try to clarify some points but we will probably agree to disagree.

    The fact that your friend or parents saw buses does not mean that people were bussed in. Yes PEOPLE CAME WITH BUSES but that is not the same thing as being bussed in. BTW my name is supposed to be satirical (maybe lost some) and pokes fun at some of these b.s. claims such people being bussed in or coming because of free food. Of course the root of these lies are Iranians themselves so I’m not blaming you. I just ask you to be a little critical of some of claims made by the greenies and their fans in the west. Checking the old blogs on this before you joined will help.

    1.Bill come on, do you really consider this evidence even if it was true, which it isn’t.

    2.Not true either factually or that it is not discussed in media. Please check govt. response to Kahrizak problems. Within 48 hours it was closed and all those repsonsible including judge have been indicted.

    3.and 4. In Iran, not everyomne who claims to be a journalist is one. Furthermore most newspapers in Iran are anti-Ahmadinejad. In Islam slander is a very serious offense so many papers are shut down when they slander without evidence. I think this would be good if it happened in the west as well. BTW the latest journalist to go court was editor of Kayhan based on a complaint by Shirin Ebadi. I bet your Iranian friends didn’t tell you that.

    5.The day when the US or UK or Israel lets outsiders confirm their elections then your point will be worth talking about.

    6.Most countries have restrictions on who can be candidates including the US and Turkey and Malaysia and I think Israel indicted some sitting members of Knesset for contacts with “enemy” (Bishara). Iran is an Islamic republic not a secular republic and thus anyome wanting to be in govt. has to accept the basics of the governing system, two of which are 1. adherence to sharia (of the Jafari school) and 2. velayate faqih. And jews christians and zoroastrians have guaranteed seats in parl. in higher proportion to there population. It would be interesting to check the proportion of Muslim parl. members in France or Israel to the proportion of population.

    7.Not true go back and read what Imam said. The secularists themselves supported Imam in order to take advantage of his popularity and arrogantly assumed that they could do away with him once the revolution happened. Boy were they wrong. And again despite what your friend and his parents say, the majority of Iranians want Islam to be the basis of the personal and public life. And Imam fought for that.

    8. In an environment where the alternatives are people connected to the west and Israel through the help of Rafsanjani and Moussavi networks I prefer IRGC. At least they are not traitors. In Marxism they might called bourgeoise nationalists, which Iran needs. Furthermore they are actually quiet competent in managing business unlike the other two.

    9. Absolutely not true, best example Subsidy Reform Bill introduced by Ahmadinejad which is being fought by so-called competent people like Khatami and Rafsanjani who didn’t have the balls to do it.

    10. I really don’t know where get this stuff. If your are not Israeli please go to Qom and ask for yourself.

    11. Iran is not locked down. Maybe your greenie friends want you to believe that but it isn’t the case

    The Islamic Republic is the most people-friendly and most populist govt. Iran has had in the last oh 4,000 years. Despite what your greenie friends claim it is people who constitute and form the institutions in Iran. The creation of the Islamic republic ended thousands of years of monarchical rule and culture and its effect on Islamic civilization is comparable to the establishment of the American and French republic on western civilization. You seem like a thoughtful person, try analyzing matters more deeply than the latest tweet.

    Your comments concerning various mentors or leaders is not really worth discussing,just insults thrown out by people who don’t have the academic or intellectual capacity to debate the mentioned people face to face. And you just repeat them without questioning.

    As far as Imam Ali is concerned unlike you I try to follow the totality of Imam Ali’s example which included things like chopping the hands of thieves, stoning adulterers and executing homosexuals and religious deviants (particulalry those claiming Ali is God) and killing enemies of Islam in battle. You, the greenies or anybody else who selectively uses Imam Ali or Imam Hussein for their political goals only reveals their insincerity, opportunism or in the case of the greenies their hypocrisy. As long as you don’t plan to follow the entire model of Imam Ali- praying fasting, hudud punishment, war with enenmies of Islam- refrain from quoting him.

  24. Bill Davit says:

    ZigZag (Bussed-in Basiji),

    Thank you for your reply. Have to hand it to you your name “Bussed in Basiji” had me rolling in laughter when I saw that!!! On to your post. A little background on me. I live in the US but my two best friends are Iranians with relatives in Iran. One friend just came over about ten years ago and one of her parents just came over from Tehran. Ironically it was this parent who validted the bussed in people for the pro regime rally. She saw it first hand with the busses for as far as the eye could see and her friends told her about the order issued to local businesses and schools requiring people to attend. It was through these people I learned a great deal about Iran and it actually resulted in me immersing myself in the events revolving around the electtion. Thus while I am neophyte on all things Iran I would say I know a great deal more than the average American. Not an expert mind you but I believe enough to allow me to make an educated opinion on some topics.

    I do agree with you that Iran has made great strides in terms of education, technology, science, and in overall civilizational advancement. It is why I believe despite the animosity between the two sides I firmly believe Iran is ironically more ideologically predisposed to the west than some of our “friends” such as the Saudis(you know the Wahhbis who sell us our oil and behind our backs plot our downfall!) In fact in my estimation Iran has the best educational system in the whole of the Islamic world. However I do think Iran has some issues some due to the West and some of its own.

    Their biggest problem is the obstinance of the ruiling elite to “hear” the people. The unrest after the elections is a prime example. While you believe the regime has the overwhelming support of the people I would beg to difer. Here is why:

    1) If you have paid attention to reports of Ahmadinejad rallies of late you will notice he has a hard time even getting people to attend(I have seen numerous pics attensting to this fact)
    2) The 100 plus dead, 18,000 imprisoned, rapes, and beatings would have been front page news in any free state until it was resolved. Yet in Iran there is a virtual black out on any news concerning the events
    3) Over 100 journalists have been detained with many behind bars. Iran has more journalists behind bars than most of the world combined
    4) Over 60 papers and publications have been banned since the election demonstrating the draconian censorship on those voicing disent
    5) The regime has never let an outside independent body validate the results
    6) The elecion as always is not a true democratic election but nothing more than a selection. The irony is it’s largely an exercise in futility because the Supreme Leader holds all the power
    7) The regime from the moment it came to power lied. Imam Khomeini himself said he wanted a representative republic that the religous establishment would advise but not hold power in. This was done to win the support of the seculrists and others on the left. Well when he came into power he took power, made Iran an theocracy, and literally liquidated thousands in the left. This is an important point because it sets the precedance of making the system more important that people
    8) The regime talks about privitization but as it turns out those companies are being bought by the IRGC
    9) The regime completely ignores the economic problems within Iran which have left hundereds of thousands unemployed and an equal number without pay for months
    10) The majority of the clerical establishement, including all Gran Ayatollahs, supports the Greens simply because the regime has violated the constitution(Sharia) on so many levels
    11) Most importantly the actions of the regime itslef disproves the theory the people back them. The party who won the election with 62% shouldn’t have to lock the country down and turn it into a police state to stay in power. Yet that is exactly what has happened

    Simply put in my mind the regime is in denial because to acknowledge the reality is to great a threat to the system so they don’t. Sadly this shows the regime views the system as more important than the people. Even Ahmadinejad’s spiritual advisor, Prof Crocodile, even said the people are just “ignorant sheep.” So at this point I think we can both agree to disagree. Hopefully one day you’ll read the constitution then compare and contrast it with all violations and realize the regime is literally eating it’s own to stay in power. After all whom are you supposed to submit to? Isn’t Allah and not the system? Seems to me the regime believes the system is more important than Allah and thus the greatest contradiction of their very existence.

    “Infuse your heart with mercy, love and kindness for your subjects. Be not in face of them a voracious animal, counting them as easy prey, for they are of two kinds:either they are your brothers in religion or your equals in creation. Error catches them unaware, deficiencies overcome them, (evil deeds) are committed by them intentionally and by mistake. So grant them your pardon and your forgiveness to the same extent that you hope God will grant you His pardon and His forgiveness. For you are above them, and he who appointed you is above you, and God is above him who appointed you. God has sought from you the fulfillment of their requirements and He is trying you with them.” Ali ibn Abi Ṭalib

    thx
    Bill

  25. ZigZag (Bussed-In Basiji) says:

    Joao C
    You haven’t grasped the difference between a claim and a fact. When you or Moussavi claim fraud you have to prove it with evidence. It’s not about what I or you “believe” happened. When you accuse a person the burden of proof is on you to prove your claim, not on that person to prove their innocence. Election fraud is a serious charge and neither you nor Moussavi nor anybody else has brought any proof beyond anecdotal evidence or hearsay- which doesn’t prove your claim.

    Your sophmoric repetition of lies and slander regarding rape and Mesbah and whatever other phantasies who have concocted are not appropriate here. Again just things you read and repeated without using your brain.

    Also, I challenge you to go to any place in Iran with the exception of north Tehran and ask ordinary people if their lives have improved under Ahmadinejad. The answers might shock you. Incidentally the only person in the Islamic republic who wanted to change the law to make the presidency for life was Mr.Rafsanjani.

    James Canning
    Surprised to see you defend old Bandar. My point about Bandar Bush did not concern the Palestinians it concerned his undue influence on the US govt. regarding everything related to Iran or Shias for that matter. Most importantly this prominent person has now vanished for over a year and not a single US media has found this story worthy of investigating. This makes it even more interesting. James Canning, do you know what happend to the old Prince? Would care to share that with the rest of us?

  26. Joao C says:

    @ James Canning

    “I think Ahmadinejad means well, but his tendency to be a bit emotional about some matters causes him to say things that do not serve the best interests of Iran or the Iranian people.”

    I agree with you on that. And allow me to add that it’s not so much that he tends to be emotional, he also lies through his teeth without the slightest discomfort!

    “Regrettably, he has made the job of the Iranophobes in the US, Israel and elsewhere, much easier. It is a pity because he is clearly intelligent and better able to articulate complex issues, by far, than, say, G W Bush.”

    Couldn’t agree more. He has served the interests of Israel and US more than anyone i Can think of. Which is why it’s rather ironic that many of the folks who post here assume that when you criticize Ahmadinejad, you’re automatically a Zionist pro-Western douche bag! I don’t doubt that he’s more intelligent and less evil than G W Bush. That’s not a very hard thing to do. But the Iranians deserve someone better than him to represent them on the world stage.

  27. James Canning says:

    Joao C,

    I think Ahmadinejad means well, but his tendency to be a bit emotional about some matters causes him to say things that do not serve the best interests of Iran or the Iranian people. Regrettably, he has made the job of the Iranophobes in the US, Israel and elsewhere, much easier. It is a pity because he is clearly intelligent and better able to articulate complex issues, by far, than, say, G W Bush.

  28. Joao C says:

    @ZigZag

    Call me whatever you want. You think Ahmadinejad didn’t cheat, I think he did. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s the “President” of Iran today. As powerless a president in Iranian political structure is, if in the next 3 years he delivers on his promises and actually improves the quality of life in Iran and brings Iranians out of isolation, great. Good for him, and good for the Iranian people. If he doesn’t, let’s hope they don’t change any laws in Iran and make him President for life! Because in the past 5 years he hasn’t done anything but to help Israel and US demonize Iran and Iranians and push more people into poverty despite Iran’s massive oil revenues during his presidency.

    You’ve chosen a perfect name for yourself (Bussed-in Basiji). You always think you are absolutely right and you never give the others a chance to present their case. You can’t co-exist with someone who doesn’t think like you. You’re like W. Bush in that you think people are either with you or against you. You would think it okay to rape young girls (and boys) because you are told by likes of Mesbah Yazdi that it will score you points for heaven. You think the Islamic Republic has lasted for 30 years because of people like Ahmadinejad, you fail to even consider that if it wasn’t for the moderates (which compared to Mesbah, your mentor, Khomeini too was a moderate) it would not have lasted a minute past the Iran-Iraq war.

  29. James Canning says:

    Cyrus,

    We all should keep in mind that Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith and Richard Perle were paid consultants to Netanyahu in the 1990s and their advice bore on the question of how to “protect” Israel by deceiving the American public about what were the best interests of the US in the Middle East. They figured on taking out Bashar al-Assad and the Iranian government – - or intimidating both Syria and Iran so that further assistance to the Palestinians was ended. Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle helped to set up the false intelligence supplied directly to the White House for use in either duping the arrogant ignoramus, or providing “deniability” to the fools supposedly looking out for the national interests of the American people.

  30. James Canning says:

    Cyrus,

    You put your finger on an important point. When Brent Scowcroft says Cheney went off the rails due to “9/11″, is he being polite? Clearly there was a conspiracy within the Defense Dept. to set up an illegal war, to benefit Israel. The game plan was to get sites for permanent US military bases. Ironically, of course, these insane measures to “protect” Israel only perpetuate the idiotic effort to keep the Golan Heights and the West Bank. I say “idiotic” because Israel is failing to make deals with its neighbors because it is convinced the US taxpayers can be hosed, year in and year out, to “protect” Israel.

  31. Anon says:

    One wonders why WigWag feels the need to hide behind a pseudonym?

    While there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with pseudonyms, to launch an attack on named individuals from behind one shows a degree of cowardice.

  32. Cyrus says:

    James Canning — the idea that Cheney flip-flopped on invading Iraq because he was “unhinged by the events of 9/11″ does not wash. Cheney is smart enough to know that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and that the invasion of Iraq, if anything, was a distraction from dealing with the culprits responsible for that event. Thus, the question still remains which has never been answered: Why did Cheney switch, and in fact why did we invade Iraq in the first place? It wasn’t due to 9/11 or WMDs that’s for sure. And the oil companies would not have benefited either. Israel? Obvious answer.

  33. James Canning says:

    ZigZag,

    Prince Bandar bin Sultan has worked for decades in an effort to achieve justice for the Palestinians. He was appalled at the stupidity of G W Bush in this regard, when G H W Bush had exerted himself toward achieving a settlement of the Israel/Palestine problem.

  34. James Canning says:

    WigWag,

    You assert that the Saudi government “is praying for the US to cut Iran down to size.”
    Is that why the Saudi foreign minister, time and time again, declares that the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians is a bigger threat to Middle East peace, than Iran? And that Saudi concern is primarily with Israel rather than Iran?

  35. James Canning says:

    WigWag,

    Are you claiming that the US is stronger for borrowing trillions of dollars to wage unnecessary wars in the Middle East? That squandering hundreds of billions each year in foolish military adventures augments American power?

  36. Liz says:

    The Islamic Republic of Iran is both popular at home and throughout the region and in any conflict between Iran and the United States, limited or otherwise, the US would face the wrath of a united people and would ultimately be defeated.

  37. ZigZag (Bussed-in Basiji) says:

    Joao C
    There was no election fraud, Ahmadinejad won the elections and the only thing that didn’t happen is a velvet coup by Rafsanjani and Moussavi. I know its hard for you but try living in reality. The majority of Iranians do not want secularism even if you might prefer that. Ahmadinejad accurately reflects the personal and social values of the majority of Iranians AND HEY ACCORDING TO YOU THIS MEANS THAT THEY DESERVE BEING NUKED. You are entitled to like whatever you want but please don’t say that the majority of Iranians do not support the current system. Please refer to old posts from me and others for discussions. Of course your rigorous defense of Israel and the Holocaust industry could indicate some Israeli connection. Be assured that Ahmadinejad’s alleged desire for destroying Israael and his challenging perpetual Jewish victimhood is very popular among the Iranian population. Of course this is another reason they would deserve being nuked in your view (I presume by the illegal nukes of your Israeli friends).

    Despite your Portuguese/Brazilian name I’m guessing you might even be a disappointed greenie who is still having problems dealing with a reality that didn’t turn out the way you thought. Given your deep knowledge of Iranians you probably didn’t think a revolution in Iran would be Islamic (“just a fluke, they won’t last long” 30 years later) you probably didn’t think Iran would defend itself against Iraq etc. You probably think that whatever good exists in Iran has nothing to do with the system or Islam for that matter, and of course whatever is bad is because of the system and Islam. In summary your views are not very illuminating, they don’t add anything new to the discussion.

    Oh WigWag you wimped out, come on, tell me what do think US goals and policy towards Iran should be- a simple question. Also do you think that the US or any other country would be morally justified to nuke Iran becasue of the government there? I repeat you are completely ignorant of Iran and it’s capabilities. And yes again, attacking Iran would break the back of the US. From my understanding the Leverrets beleive it mortally wound US standing and power internationally. I extend that and say it also mean the effective end of the US republic as we know it. The domestic political, economic and social conssequences will push the US over the breaking point. So come on WigWag answer the questions I have asked you instead of attacking the Leverret and quoting Clemons (hey maybe your are Clemons!)

  38. Joao C says:

    @Humanist

    The day Eric Brill and other analysts are allowed to research Mousavi’s claims on the ground and are given permission to interview everyone they choose, including all of Mousavi aides who are in prison, is the day I will take his rants seriously. But a look over his “findings” reveals that he’s simply cherry-picking the facts and finding ways to JUSTIFY Ahmadinejad’s presidency. He claims for example that the human chain of pro-Mousavi supporters was at most 20,000 people while on that same day Ahmadinejad had a million supporters on the street! This guy doesn’t even know what Tehran looks like. He doesn’t know the human chain stretched from north to south of Tehran on the Middle East’s longest Avenue (Valiasr). While Ahmadinejad supporters couldn’t even fill an intersection and in fact his speaker was stuck behind the human chain and could not make it to the event! And suppose there was no voter fraud, how can you ever justify the way the government treated the peaceful protestors? If they had the majority, the could have easily just invited Mousavi and his audies on national TV and given them a podium to explain themselves. Problem solved. The fact that they didn’t and instead chose to be violent and oppressive proves them guilty as charged…

    Yes, I do think we should prevent a war with Iran. But not by claiming that majority of Iranians support a president who denies the Holocaust, thinks Israel should be wiped off the map and is guided by hallucinations. They don’t. Far from it. But the more you lie about a majority being behind the likes of Ahmadinejad and Khamenei, the more you help the case for war against Iran. heck, if all Iranians are like Ahmadinejad they deserve to be nuked! but they are not.

    As someone who claims to be a “humanist” you should never side with those who deny the most basic of human rights to their own people.

  39. Humanist says:

    @Joao C

    No one can defend the past crimes of Islamic Republic of Iran.

    Here, that is not the issue……the issue is stopping another heinous Iraqi style war …….this time with Iran

    …and like it or not Ahmadinejad won the election by a wide margin
    refer to a 38 page report by Eric A Brill here http://iran2009presidentialelection.blogspot.com/

    Between the lines of that report you might read why some of your other assertions are not based on facts.

  40. WigWag says:

    “Furthermore, any wars that the United States chooses to fight in the Middle East in the future will be fought on borrowed money—money borrowed from creditors like China and Saudi Arabia that will not be amused by Washington undertaking a military initiative that would be so harmful to their own interests. Starting a war with Iran would “break the back” of America’s increasingly strained superpower status—just as surely as the British mistake of invading Egypt and seizing the Suez Canal in 1956 (with help from France and Israel, to be sure) forever ended the United Kingdom’s claims to great power status. As Americans, we hope our government will do better than that—in strategic as well as moral terms.” (Mann-Leverett/Leverett)

    The Leveretts start this post by telling us that they very rarely intervene in the comment section of their blog. That’s true, they rarely do; the last time I remember was their attempt to refute the allegations made against them in the expose that Lee Smith penned for Tablet Magazine.

    But now that they have decided to join the great unwashed in the comment section they’ve obviously made the decision to abandon any pretense of being serious commentators and instead adopt the analytical standards so frequently on display in this part of their website.

    The paragraph that I quoted above is the perfect evidence of this; in fact, it’s hard to believe that anyone who valued their professional reputation would make a remark that silly. Obviously, in their frustration, the proprietors of the “Race for Iran” have made the decision to trade serious discussion for polemics.

    I do give them credit though; squeezing so many misatements into one paragraph couldn’t have been easy.

    1) The Leveretts claim that any war with Iran will be financed with borrowed money. Surely the Leveretts understand that when a nation runs a fiscal deficit everything it does is financed with borrowed money. The United States finances its NATO obligations with borrowed money and it makes its annual contributions to the United Nations with borrowed money. It funds the troops stationed in Korea with borrowed money and it pays doctors in its VA Hospital with borrowed money. The United States pays its air traffic controllers with borrowed money and it pays for medical research through NIH with borrowed money. Whatever the risks or benefits that its fiscal policy might entail, financing a war with Iran with borrowed money is no different than borrowing money for all of those other purposes. Engaging in a war with Iran might be a good idea or it might be a terrible mistake; the fact that America would finance a war with borrowed money is irrelevant.

    2) If the Leveretts are suggesting that if the United States attacks Iran, Saudi Arabia and China will no longer be willing to buy American bonds, then they show an appalling ignorance of international finance. Leaving aside the fact that they misconstrue Saudi feelings about Iran (the Saudi Government is praying for the United States to cut Iran down to size) maybe the Leveretts can tell us exactly where the Chinese and Saudis will park the hundreds of billions of dollars in surpluses they are generating if not in American debt. Do they think the Chinese and Saudis will be buying Euro dominated debt any time soon? Will the Euro even survive? What about the Yen or the Swiss Franc? Do the Leveretts understand that there isn’t enough debt dominated in either of those currencies to soak up more than a few months of Saudi and Chinese surpluses? Where else do they think the Saudis and Chinese might park those surpluses; Polish zlotys? Israeli Shekels? Turkish Lira? Brazilian Reals? The dollar will remain the world’s reserve currency for at least another generation; the recent collapse of the Euro insures that. The Leveretts might want the Chinese and Saudis to dump the dollar, but the Saudis and Chinese are considerably smarter than the Leveretts; they understand that they literally have nowhere else to go

    3) Are the Leveretts really so shallow that they think a war with Iran would eliminate the United States as a super-power in the same way that the Suez Crisis put the finishing touches on the British Empire? Have the Leveretts ever popped open even a high school history text? Has it occurred to the Leveretts that by the time of the Suez crisis, Great Britain had been involved in two world wars in a mere 40 years? Do they realize that it in today’s dollars the aggregate cost of those wars was measured in the many trillions of dollars? Do they understand that Great Britain had lost a whole generation of its young men? Do they understand that in both World Wars, Great Britain was not fighting a small, militarily weak nation like Iran but a coalition of some of the most powerful nations in the world? Do they understand that Great Britain emerged from this 40 year period of war with a debt burden as a percentage of its GDP enormously higher than the debt burden the United States faces today?

    Whether it is a good idea or bad idea from a strategic point of view, the idea that an American War with Iran will have consequences for the United States that is any way comparable to the British situation in the 1950s is laughably uninformed. Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking on the part of the Leveretts.

    4) It was nice to see the Leveretts express a hope that their government would refrain from attacking Iran for “moral” reasons. But one has to wonder about the selectivity of their morality; when the Iranian demonstrators were being attacked and beaten in the streets, Flynt’s moral compass seems to have been turned off. When Iran recently executed Kurdish dissenters and refused to release the bodies for burial, Hillary’s moral compass didn’t budge.

    But I don’t want to be too hard on the Leveretts; after all, as Steve Clemons calls them, they’re “crack-cocaine realists.” From a professional point of view that means it’s amazing that they are willing to consult their moral sense at all.

  41. Humanist says:

    Correction:

    In my comment on war, in calculating the yearly cost of war I made a serious mistake. The actual numbers are 1000 times less. For example instead of $ 1.6 million (the cost per person per year) it should have written $ 1600.

    Those are big mistakes. I’m terribly sorry

  42. Joao C says:

    As the Iranian saying goes… I don’t know which of the Leverett’s musical instruments to dance with!

    On the one hand in their fight for a “grand bargain” with Iran they ignore Iran’s human rights abuses and admit that they are not interested in human rights. They haven’t once criticized the regime for its massive crackdown of the opposition however small they claim their numbers are. On the other hand, as soon as there is talk of war, they suddenly feel sorry for the Iranian people and get emotional in their assessment of how war is bad and killing Iranians would be a bad thing. As though they approve Iranian hardliners killing Iranians, but not others! Don’t get me wrong, I’m against anyone killing anyone, but what is it exactly that the Leveretts are after?!

    I would question any person, team or organization who is ALWAYS in line with policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran without ever criticizing it. I would question the Leveretts because they are the only foreign “journallists” or “analysts” quoted by Fars News and IRNA!

    @ZigZag

    “The overwhelming majority of Iranians support the Islamic Republic and the govt. The govt. does not need the threat or perception of war to do anything.”

    Dream on! A regime that has the overwhelming support of its people does not act the way they’re acting. They would be more tolerant of their opposition without the need to arrest, kill, rape and intimidate.

    “The second most important problem was economic dependency on US and Europe and lack domestic industry which with the grace of God and the efforts of the “poor and oppressed” people has also now been addressed.”

    Just today the head of Iran’s economic statistics said 10 million Iranians live in absolute poverty while 30 million live in relative poverty. This is THEIR saying, not an opposition website’s numbers! Not exactly sure how it has been addressed. Domestic factories are closing one by one. Inflation and unemployment rate is at an all time high. And the government seems to have no plans whatsover.

    You might want to check the news about Iranian scientific, technical and industrial capacities (oh yes of course I know it’s all PressTV propaganda). I am hoping that with increased sanctions the final remaining strings of economic attachment to the west will be cut (check the latest articles about the effects of sanctions on the increased presence of Rev. Guards in oil industry- thank God for that).

    “Ahmadinejad’s popularity is precisely because he is NOT elitist and in fact fights elitism- for example around Rafsanjani or secularized people like Moussavi.”

    Secularism for one is a good thing for Islam and other religions. Islam prospers in secular societies. Ahmadinejad is too dumb to be an elitist. At least elitists are after fattening their own pockets! Ahmadinejad is after fattening pockets of others around him and those in far away countries. He came to steal from the rich and give to the poor. He ended up stealing from the poor (where is all the oil income?) and giving it to Chaves, Hamas and Hezbollah. He had 5 million votes in 88 elections, and after the crackdown I don’t see him having any more than 2.

  43. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Stephen Kinzer has a new book that describes the “grand bargain” and then some — it’s a prescription for a new way for America to think about her place in the world, vis-a- vis the Middle East. He’ll be on a book tour in a few weeks, and Robert Naiman at Just Foreign Policy has set up a virtual book tour.

    Kinzer’s book is Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future. The link includes an short audio of Kinzer explaining why he wrote the book.

  44. ZigZag (Bussed-in Basiji) says:

    Bill Davit
    The overwhelming majority of Iranians support the Islamic Republic and the govt. The govt. does not need the threat or perception of war to do anything. Like most developing nations Iran has many problems but unlike most developing nations it has actually began to fundamentally and structurally solve these. That is why the US and persons such as you have a problem with Iran.

    The most important of these problems was not having an indigenous model of governance. With the help of Imam Khomeini(may God bless his soul) and the establishment of the Islamic Republic this most basic problem was addressed and it is continuing to be addressed (as in other republics- I think France is up to its 5th republic now).

    The second most important problem was economic dependency on US and Europe and lack domestic industry which with the grace of God and the efforts of the “poor and oppressed” people has also now been addressed. You might want to check the news about Iranian scientific, technical and industrial capacities (oh yes of course I know it’s all PressTV propaganda). I am hoping that with increased sanctions the final remaining strings of economic attachment to the west will be cut (check the latest articles about the effects of sanctions on the increased presence of Rev. Guards in oil industry- thank God for that).

    What you fundamentally do not want to accept is that “the people”- whom you seem to know very well- form the government and public institutions in Iran. It is not some royal or dictatoral clique like in the good old days. Ahmadinejad’s popularity is precisely because he is NOT elitist and in fact fights elitism- for example around Rafsanjani or secularized people like Moussavi.

    I would hope you inform yourself a little more about Iran and the Iranians before you make judgements in the future.

  45. ZigZag (Bussed-in Basiji) says:

    WigWag and friends
    The Leverrets’ agenda is to analyze international relations in order to offer policy suggestions that best serve AMERICAN interests- not what’s in the interests of Israel or internal factions in Iran. They try to be realistic about the subjects of their analysis- in this case Iran. They try not be affected by a pre-conceived agenda (for example “Iran is bad” or “Iran is good”). This is unlike the vast majority of US analysts who actually have an agenda, and for that they should be praised. My undertanding what they are trying to say is:

    1. The common understanding of the internal situation in Iran- especially after the elections- is very different than the way it is described by Iranian exiles, western journalist and most US analysts.

    2. US policy towards Iran has in general been ineffective and thus a failure however its goals are defined by various admins. No US admin has had a clear idea of what its goals should be nor has it had a coherent policy to pursue it. The main reason for this is precisely the emotional and unrealistic way in which the whole subject of Iran is dealt with in Washington and the way in which Zionists, Iranian exiles and the Saudis (the vanished Prince Bandar Bush) affect US decision makers.

    3. Regardless of the status quo, any US military action aganist Iran would be a fatal mistake and would in the first place, mortally wound the US in its international affairs. I have argued that it would not only mortally wound the US internationally but it would effective end the American republic as we know it and mortally wound the US domestically- following the various political, economic and military wounds that the US has received since 9/11.

    Just to clarify when I called WigWag “ignorant” it was not an insult, it was a statement about his/her level of understanding of the subject, particularly Iran. If he was less ignorant about the realities of Iran- instead of rehashing propaganda and lies- I am certain he would reach a different conclusion.

    I believe that given the INTERNAL US political situation the US will be forced to at minimum to launch airstrikes in order to maintain its “mafia godfather” status in international relations vis a vis its underlings or potential upcomiong dons. This will lead to a military defeat and the consequences mentioned above.

    6. WigWag seems to think that the Iranian “regime” (I prefer “legally and legitimately elected government”) is so evil that it is nothing short of inviting an attack and that this evil government would deserve being crushed and that the attacker would be morally justified to do so. Come on WigWag, if you feel that the evil regime is so deserving of being crushed and that the regime would be morally responsible for any resultuing civilian deaths, than simply say so. Please give us a clear answer to this question instead of manipulating.

    7. I suggest that neither WigWag nor the Leverrets nor anybody in the US really knows what Iran’s response will be. However the Iranians have a pretty clear understanding of what a US attack would entail. This gives Iran A STRATEGIC ADVANTAGE in a war.

    8. One thing can be predicted with near certainty. Regardless of how much “shock and awe” is unleashed on Iran- the Islamic Republic Republic of Iran and its current leadership will not fall as a result of this attack.

    WigWag, in your opinion what should US goals and policies towards Iran be? Please include reasons for your argument. Thanks.

  46. Bill Davit says:

    My simple analysis is that Iran does not want war but the prospect of it. With the prospect of war they can use it to:

    1) promote fear to motivate the nation
    2) provide air cover to continue the oppression
    3) and most importantly provides a nice target besides themselves to blame all the woes of Iran on

    The question remains is how far is the regime willing to pursue the “perception of war?” As we all know negative reinforcement while having high initial returns eventually drops off quite a bit. Over time this prospect itself then becomes self defeating and in the worst case the catalyst for it actually happening. It actually happens when the regime finally realizes they have nothing left to “motivate” or “rally” the people behind them so in a fit of desperation they embark on confrontation. I don’t think we are at that point yet but it will be quite spectacle to watch this play out. Sadly as always it will be the people of Iran who will pay the heaviest price as the regime uses them to ply their trade.

    As Wig Wag noted it does bring into question the Leveretts position on this. While I don’t think they are doing it intentionally at all times they do use the prospect of war to prove out many of their points. The irony of it is that the US and the West really don’t even consider it beyond alluding to it as a cude motivator. The reality is the West has neither the economic or political capital to wage another war at this time. In fact it would be political suicide for any politician at this point to puruse this. So the final question all must ask themselves is whom does the discourse concerning the prospect of war best serve? When you answer this it becomes quite clear why one side makes a big deal out of it while the other rarely even discusses it. As a hint you might want to pay attention to PressTV for awhile.

    Thx
    Bill

  47. If You Don't Get It, You Don't Get It says:

    I think this ping pong back and forth is healthy but slowly taking the readers off the subject (the Leveretts).

    Historically, no non-Moslem invader of any Moslem Nation ended up “surviving” for long, and/or achieving all its goals at the end of the day. I don’t need to give examples as there are plenty, recent and non-recent.

    What the Iranians have more than the Arabs of today is a much deeper sense of “patriotism” and “nationalism” (And I am not saying that Arabs don’t at all).

    Based on my humble knowledge of the Middle East; I think that if Israel or the US become foolish enough to attack Iran, the conflict will result in making all Iranians back their government, the killings of many thousands of American soldiers in Irak and elsewhere, the weakening of the already suffering US influence in the Middle East, an economic devastation of the area that would not only affect the US and its allies in the region but most probably the world, the complete closing of the Straits of Hormuz and for a long period of time which would be even more devastating for the global oil and goods supply, the involvement of so many other Nations in the conflict and eventually the beginning of the real and fast end of the state of Israel.

    Call me not realistic… But history (especially recent history) has shown that the above is real.

    May God, people and/or something persuade our Nation (US) not to take this diabolic path.

  48. Serifo says:

    Many academics predict a mass exodus from U.S army if the Congress ever authorizes a war against Iran. Despite their hard talk , people like D. Petraeus will certainly resign either before the ” hypothetical ” war or after they fail their war objectives.

  49. pirouz_2 says:

    @WigWag says:
    RE your post on May 27, 2010 at 9:25 pm.

    My understanding too is that the Leveretts are very worried that the current path taken by USA may very likely lead to an all-out military confrontation between USA and Iran.
    Furthermore, I agree with them, and it is not just I or the Leveretts, most importantly Iranian government itself is worried about such an outcome. And that is the reason behind all their military exercises in “assymetric warfare” and the reason that they burry their enrichment facilities deep under the ground and in the mountaineous regions.

    So I don’t think that you are very much off the mark in that particular comment.

    What you persistantly misunderstand (or rather deliberately NOT understand) is that they don’t think that USA will come out as victorious from such a war! Yes, in terms of “conventional” military might, USA is far more powerful than Iran is (just as I at the age of 6 was more powerful than the wasps). They don’t deny that, on the contrary they make a very strong point of it! And neither do I deny that (nor anyone else who is not living in a dream world). BUT “CONVENTIONAL” SUPRIORITY DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU WILL WIN A WAR!
    USA WAS VASTLY SUPERIOR (IN TERMS OF CONVENTIONAL MILITARY) TO VIETNAM TOO, WHAT HAPPENED?
    USSR was vastly superior to Afghan Mujahidin too, what happened?
    Israel is incomparablly superior -in terms of conventional military- to hezballah too, what happened in 2000? Even worse, what happened in 2006?
    That is the disaster they are trying to avoid, and that is the disaster that people like you try to ignore.
    What they try to avoid, to quote their exact words, is: “[To] start a war with Iran [which] would “break the back” of America’s increasingly strained superpower status—just as surely as the British mistake of invading Egypt and seizing the Suez Canal in 1956 (with help from France and Israel, to be sure) forever ended the United Kingdom’s claims to great power status”
    THIS IS THE PART OF THEIR ARGUEMENT THAT YOU PERSISTANTLY REFUSE TO UNDERSTAND.
    USA will lose this war, Iran on the other hand will come out on top and in due time will reconstruct itself!

  50. Humanist says:

    War?

    In this age, how most of the conscientious people of the world think about “Inquisition in middle ages”? Burning people alive just because they doubted the existence of God? Today nearly all of us believe inquisition was barbaric, appalling and consequently a group-conduct detrimental to our survival.

    What about Chengiz Khan’s wars, slavery, Nazi Doctrine etc? Today most of us put them in the same category of inquisition….ie primitive, barbaric and appalling.

    We have changed. That is good news but we have a long way to go..

    Based on the scientific knowledge I think human beings are genetically (physically) the same as centuries ago but “culturally”.we are gradually evolving, changing with an exponential rate. True science is penetrating into arenas of non-deterministic philosophy or religion or any school of non-scientific thought and on its path of progress is decomposing the old destructive beliefs

    Recently Neuroscientists are discovering phenomenal facts about “aggression” in animals and humans. Konrad Lorenz’s observations on Aggression in the last century are now getting quantified by data of MRI systems and more We now know why the Generals and Political Leaders are so de-humanized in their wars losing all their sensitivities towards civilians being killed or maimed in the lands of their adversaries. (Some coldly call that “collateral damage”)

    Simply put, scientists have identified an area in the brain which consists of “inhibitors”. These inhibitors are as “breaks” to stop any specific destructive behavior. If we get excessively angry we don’t murder the person who infuriated us because as complex nervous circuitry reaches the inhibitor of “anger” area it gets deflected. But if for some reason that inhibitor is dysfunctional then the act of “murder” or other “aggressive” acts are attempted.

    Trauma in childhood might weaken or destroy those inhibitors. In our teen years (or earlier) we are very vulnerable. In this period stories of the atrocities of the enemies of our tribe (or nation)
    destroys the related inhibitor areas. From then on the adolescents would show cold “remorselessness” if their side inflicts immense amount of pain, death or destruction on their enemies .

    Most time the gradual alterations of inhibitors occur in the worshiping places such as mosques , churches or synagogues. Extremist political parties also cause the same effect on their members. Also, the above gradual alteration can happen during army training, or while staff of security or intelligence establishment are carrying out their assigned duties.

    If we don’t possess any inhibitor in our brain, we murder, steal, rape, stage wars and so on without feeling any shame or guilt..

    Wars?

    To understand who are the ones who get together and stage wars on weaker tribes, a number of other brain functions should be scientifically explained. Although most wars fall in the category of “organized theft” quite a number of them are as the biblical Amalek war.

    To summerize the complex topic of “war” I believe the source of all wars are our primitive animalistic brains where the inhibitors are paralyzed or destroyed.

    We can be different from animals. We can solve immensely complicated technological and scientific problems to make computers, satellites to sequence Genes etc. If we use the same type of analytical and rational mind then solving the tribal or national disputes seem way easier than making a wheel.

    Trouble starts when instead of qualified scientists zealots with low IQ are in charge of say, sending a man to the moon. We then could witness multitudes of explosions, deaths, destructions, and enormous waste of resources where at the end the mission is not accomplished.

    However if rational, intelligent and knowledgeable people who have healthy “unaltered” brains get in charge of running our political systems then instead of “destructive” wars we can “construct” a world where there is way less misery. Of course the above is an idealistic argument but it is a valid one, we first dreamt of flying then in time we built airplanes. Admittedly the problem gets more complicated when the strongest bully in the block is a lunatic …Hitler is a good example.

    Wars?

    How foolish we are? US spends over 50 million dollars an hour on defense, building sophisticated armaments for killing the “enemies” and destroying their structures ( 1.3 billion a day, 500 billion a year). By dividing half a trillion (yearly defense budget) to 300 million (US population) we get 1.6 million per person per year(or over 6.5 million per year for a family of four).

    Extrapolate those numbers to 10….20 years…you get a measure of how defective our brains are.

    Is this the best we can do? I believe not. Lets work towards “culturally” evolving just a little bit more, then we will de-brainwash and fire the primitive neocons who are obsessed with more power and merciless destruction of their “enemies”

  51. Pirouz says:

    Actually, Wig Wag, you’re close (but not that close). The reality is that a grand bargain is the best means of substantially reducing a war between the US and the Islamic Republic of Iran, a war which would in all likelihood be initiated by the United States.

  52. Dan Cooper says:

    Wig Wag

    Your whole objective in this forum is to exploit and manipulate Leverett’s articles and to discredit the government of Iran.

    You are obviously a pro-Zionist, pro-war and have a strong anti-Iran bias.

    I believe that these Ideological and emotional agendas result in you exploiting other people’s posts and distancing yourselves from factual and analytical information, preferring instead, information that fits with your material interests and emotional disposition.

    The primacy of emotion over fact bids ill for you.

    If an article does not fit with your Ideological and emotional agenda, do not exploit it and do not attack the messenger.

    You foolishly and sarcastically have been doing this since leveretts open this site.

    LEVERETTs are two highly educated, honorable and peace loving people and have had a distinguished career in the U.S. government.

    What leveretts are doing is to prevent another war and to save Hundreds of thousands of innocent Iranian men, women and children from being slaughtered in similar fashion to Iraq and Afghanistan.

    What Levertts are doing is in the interest of USA.

    Nearly 5000 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq.

    Are you not tired of seeing American soldiers being brought home in coffins one after the other?

    Wig Wag; are you not tired of wars?

    Are you not tired of seeing innocent women and children being slaughtered in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    Are you not tired of seeing innocent and defenseless Palestinian women and children being blown to pieces by the Zionist murderers?

  53. Serifo says:

    ” Moreover, we believe that Iran has an enormous capacity for “asymmetric” resistance to armed violations of its sovereignty. If an American President were ever so foolish as to order an invasion of the Islamic Republic, U.S. military forces would get bogged down in a horrible occupation that would make what American troops experienced in Iraq seem like a picnic by comparison. In a long-term, strategic sense, the United States would surely lose such a conflict. Even if an American president opts “only” to launch air and/or missile strikes against Iranian targets, Iran has ways to put substantial (and effective) pressure on American positions in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Again, the outcome would be a net loss for the United States.”
    Excellent analysis from the Leveretts ! To Wig wag and other warmongers , please enjoy your summer BBQ , a war against Iran is unnecessary and insane !! :)

  54. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    Yes, you are missing something WigWag!
    Your dispassionate talk of war is the result of your government oppressing people around the world so that you can live the “American dream”.
    You are so dreamy eyed with war that you can’t stop and think (if you are capable of thought) what happens to people who have war perpetrated upon them. Or, maybe it’s the red glow of blood that excites you so, sitting wherever it is that you sit, away from conflict that does not affect you so many miles away, knowing full well that Iran cannot harm you.
    Tic toc. Tick Tock.

  55. WigWag,

    I’m less interested in what you think of what the Leveretts think than I am in what you think – specifically about the inevitability of war with Iran.

    Do you think it’s inevitable? If so, would that please or displease you? If not, why not, and what do you think can and should be done to reduce the risk of war – by the US, and by Iran?

  56. WigWag says:

    For commentators as prolific as the two Leveretts, it is odd that they don’t expect people to hold them accountable for what they say. Don’t they realize that they leave an extensive paper trail that can be accessed virtually instantaneously by anyone who knows how to use goggle?

    The only logical conclusion that can be reached by reading their numerous essays about Iran is that there is literally no realistic way to prevent a violent confrontation between the United States and Iran except the negotiation of what they call a “grand-bargain.” They believe that every other realistic option leads to war.

    The Leveretts Believe that “Detente” Leads to War

    In a 2008 Washington Monthly article Flynt Leverett says, “Detente Won’t Do.” His argument is that detente won’t prevent a violent confrontation because unlike the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the United States is militarily powerful while Iran is militarily weak. Leverett goes on to say that even under a detente formula, Iran is “guaranteed to provoke the United States.” Finally, Leverett argues that detente won’t prevent a military confrontation because there’s not enough in it for the United States. A mere detente between Iran and the United States won’t facilitate U.S. objectives in the Middle East and thus it won’t establish peace.

    The Leveretts Believe that Containment Leads to War

    The Leveretts don’t think a strategy of “containment” is any more likely to allow Iran and the United States to coexist peacefully than a strategy of detente is. It’s worse than that actually; the Leveretts think that pursuing a strategy of containing Iran is merely a precursor to an American attack. Here’s what Leverett and Mann-Leverett said in Politico on April 26, 2010,

    “But containment is an inherently unstable and dangerous posture — perhaps likely to end up sparking a U.S.-Iranian war.”

    They’ve made the same argument elsewhere, including the pages of this blog.

    The Leveretts Believe that Sanctions Lead to War

    Leverett and Mann-Leverett have argued consistently that not only will sanctions not work, but that they are counterproductive. But they actually think it’s much worse than that. They’ve repeated the story more than once that Dennis Ross told them that sanctions are merely a precursor to a military attack by the United States; as far as I know, Ross has never confirmed their account of what he supposedly told them.

    In an interview with Imran Garda (Kenneth Katzman and Seyed Mohammad Marandi were also interviewed) speaking of the American pursuit of sanctions, Flynt Leverett said,

    “It is a feckless exercise. And if you don’t have serious diplomacy, if sanctions are feckless, then the next thing that is going to come are more coercive options like military force. Ultimately, if we don’t develop a serious policy for engaging Iran, I’m afraid that that is where the United States might well be headed, towards some kind of military confrontation.”

    Only the extraordinarily credulous could believe that the Obama Administration might still pursue a “grand-bargain” similar to the one Nixon pursued with China. Even the Leveretts must see that their idea of a “grand bargain” is dead and buried.

    In light of this, it is the Leveretts who are convinced that war between the United States and Iran is inevitable. After all, they’ve told us that every option other than a grand bargain results in a military conflagration. Might the pursuit of “detente” between Iran and the United States prevent violence? Not according to Flynt and Hillary. Might a “containment” strategy keep the peace? Not if you believe the dynamic duo who publish this blog. Might sanctions serve as a substitute for an actual war between the United States and Iran? The Leveretts don’t think so; they think sanctions merely hasten the moment when the violent confrontation begins.

    The Leveretts obviously believe that the countdown clock to a war between the United States and Iran is ticking and that the only thing that can stop it is a grand-bargain that obviously won’t be happening.

    If you listen carefully you can almost hear Flynt in his office at the New America Foundation counting;

    T minus 10, T minus 9, T minus 8, T minus 7.

    Or am I misconstruing something?

  57. Lysander says:

    I think some here (WigWag?) may confuse “unable to project power” with “unable to defend oneself.” Hezbollah cannot project power. They cannot transport armies to other parts of the globe and they cannot, so far as is known, invade Northern Israel. And yet, they can and did repel an assault on Lebanon. In 1939 Finland lacked the means to project power, but it could repel a Soviet invasion. North Vietnam could not project power, and yet…

    The same is true with Iran. I don’t think the Levertts, reveal any diabolical agenda by pointing out this obvious fact. WigWag in subsequent posts claimed to understand Iran has a capacity for an asymmetrical response. But his original post, in which he quotes the Leveretts, he seemed to imply that Iran would be an easy target.

    In the end, I suspect victory for the US or strategic demise would hinge on its ability to reopen the Straights of Hormuz. Failure to do so, would place the US in an untenable position in the world stage. Economic and political pressure would force the US into a negotiated settlement. And while I’m no military expert, I suspect no US commander could assure the President that the straights would remain open. Without such an assurance, I doubt any president would give the order.

    On a personal note, about three years ago I was flying out of Dubai. Looking out the window, I could see below what I think was the S of H. It consisted of two lanes of bumper to bumper tanker traffic and very hilly terrain on the Iranian side. It seemed to me to be an easy matter for the Iranians to fire thousands of katyusha rockets, Hezbollah style, from the high ground into the shipping lanes and bring traffic to a halt. Again, I’m no military expert, but it seemed plausible to me.

    I would love feedback from anyone with Naval experience.

  58. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Joao C, You AND wigwam seem to inhabit the same tent: you twist your own and others’ words to suit your underlying assumptions.

    You wrote: I don’t see what all the fuss over WigWag’s comments are about. He’s making a good point. >>>>The Leveretts have an agenda that I am yet to figure out.<<<<

    That's YOUR assumption, that the Leverett's have an "agenda." It's astonishing that you draw conclusions from your underlying assumption that Leveretts' have an agenda when in the next breath you concede that you don't know what that agenda is.

    So seduced are you by your internal dialog about L's agenda that you rush past their claims that "they don’t want a war with Iran," in preference for YOUR "conclusion that they MUST be paid by the Iranian government," from which, by your unique internal logic, the Leveretts "do in fact WANT A WAR WITH IRAN."

    Doesn't logic demand that we asses a claim based on actual statements and facts presented, rather than on the motives we assign to them from within our own biases?

    You say, "Because they know that the only thing that MIGHT save the hardliners in the Iranian regime is a foreign threat and or a war."

    How do you KNOW that the Leveretts know this? Where did you get evidence to support the underlying assumption that the Leveretts WANT the "hardliners" to be "saved?"

    Is there an internal contradiction in this sentence:
    "The hardliners would use such a threat to try and unify the country and crush dissent for good."

    If the country is "unified," there's no "dissent," right? Do you think there's a possibility that the "hardliners" will be smarter than to use "crushing" tactics and let a stupid move by US do the "unifying" for them? Is that a plausible scenario?

    "The Leveretts continue to argue that the Green Movement for example is dead when considering the circumstances they are still very much alive. They do this to tell the American Policy Makers “don’t wait for the people, just attack Iran already!”"

    You make three claims in the above sentences: that the Green Movement is NOT dead; that the Leveretts argue that GM IS dead based on some Leverettian agenda, and that the Leveretts are eager for the US to attack Iran.

    Facts are your friends; mind reading produces whatever results the voices in your head tell you.

    Whether the Green Movement is or is not alive is actually immaterial, in the face of your other claims that Leveretts have an agenda and that agenda is for the US to attack Iran. But which is it — the Leveretts are on the side of the hardliners — you said L's "want a war to save the hardliners;" or on the side of overthrowing the regime: "don't wait for the people just attack Iran?" Do you have any evidence you can point to to support either of those claims?

    People say wild things when their identity is concealed. That's an extremely unfortunate feature of the blogosphere and the call-in/talk show phenomenon. For even tho words said irrationally or without basis in fact or logic do not harm the (anonymous) speaker, they do enter the atmosphere and poison it. If your words were to remain unchallenged, it would not be long before the notion entered the environment that "the Leveretts advocate an attack on Iran." It has now become acceptable, "conventional wisdom" to say, "Iran seeks to commit genocide." Such talk is very dangerous. Your statements are likewise dangerous, because they are illogical and not factual.

    Ignorance, Not Iran, is the Enemy.

  59. kooshy says:

    It is funny that, this response by Levereets to “Waugh Waugh’s” (it sounds correct although I might have spelled it wrong) yesterday post is actually due to my comments earlier that day, which I stand by it. That is If US military did have the military capability to attack and “subjugate” Iran it had done it long ago, the clear recent Muslim countries examples are Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, which US or a client country has attacked and invaded but could not subjugate the population. All this examples are with much smaller countries in this same region with smaller area and demography. Now if US attack Iran, and could not get to subjugate the country we all must pray and hope that GE can rapidly produce larger and stronger super turbo fans since the fans that are currently running this country, will become useless and impossible to clean and used again.

  60. Joao C:

    “If Americans or Israelis do attack Iran it would be the stupidest thing they could do because it would kill all chances of a more democratic Iran that serves the Iranian people.”

    If the Americans and Israelis don’t attack, how do you foresee that Iran will become more democratic?

  61. Chris says:

    Wig Wag

    The ease at which you talk about war, even wars for no apparent reason, is very frightening,

    I do not know who you are and what your background is, but you seem to have a very serious misunderstanding about the use and limitation of force.

    Thucydides’ Melian Dialogue should be a good read for you.

  62. From Thomas Friedman’s May 25 column:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/26/opinion/26friedman.html

    I especially liked this quotation (and I’ll pat myself on the back for predicting we’d soon see this):

    “Lula … regularly praises Venezuela’s strongman Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro, the Cuban dictator — and now Ahmadinejad…”

    At least no photo of Lula and Chavez hugging, as I’d also predicted, but I guess they don’t do photos in op-ed columns.

  63. Joao C says:

    I don’t see what all the fuss over WigWag’s comments are about. He’s making a good point. The Leveretts have an agenda that I am yet to figure out. They claim they don’t want a war with Iran, but the more I read their articles and the more I come to the conclusion that they MUST be paid by the Iranian government, the more I get closer to the idea that they do in fact WANT A WAR WITH IRAN. Because they know that the only thing that MIGHT save the hardliners in the Iranian regime is a foreign threat and or a war. The hardliners would use such a threat to try and unify the country and crush dissent for good. Anyone belonging to the opposition will be labeled a traitor and gets killed.

    The Leveretts continue to argue that the Green Movement for example is dead when considering the circumstances they are still very much alive. They do this to tell the American Policy Makers “don’t wait for the people, just attack Iran already!”

    If Americans or Israelis do attack Iran it would be the stupidest thing they could do because it would kill all chances of a more democratic Iran that serves the Iranian people. Such an action would only empower the hardliners just as Bush’s Axis Of Evil comments and consequent Iran strategies did.

  64. JohnH says:

    Strange how none of the “intelligence” assessments never talk about Iran’s potential to wreak havoc with the Persian Gulf oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc. Iran pretty much shut down Saddam’s oil exports for years and presumably would do this to the West if attacked. IMHO this would be (or should be) a powerful deterrent to US attack. Yet it is rarely discussed.

    As in Iraq, oil as the animator of US war is never discussed. And it seems that exposure of Western oil interests in retaliation for an attack is never discussed, either. The only thing that gets discussed is Iran’s “asymmetric” capabilities.

    What purpose (or whose interests) does leaving stuff out of “intelligence” assessments serve?

  65. pirouz_2 says:

    @wigwag:

    Actually what Leveretts say is a very straight forward point, which shouldn’t need too much of explanation, but since you don’t seem to have understood their point, let me try to make it easier for you:

    When I was a child of around 5-6, while playing in our back yard, I came across the nest of a colony of wasps. Being the ignorant child (almost infant) that I was, I tried to go and destroy their nest with a stick and crushing it under my feet.
    My mom ran and stopped me and told me: “Son! Dont do that, the wasps are no threat to you, they are minding their own business. BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE IF YOU PUT YOUR FOOT ON THEIR NEST THEY WILL BECOME A THREAT TO YOU AND YOU WILL BE HURT VERY BADLY!”

    Well she did stop me that once, but being young and ignorant, once that my mom was not around, I did what I was tempted to do, and the wasp colony taught me a lesson that I never forgot! I was bitten all over my arms and face and there was no stopping of my cryings.
    And guess what? While some of the wasps got crushed and killed by me, the colony survived. In fact they made another nest right next to the old one, and this time I was wise enough to stay away from it!

    Perhaps my language is too symbolic for you? Let me try another way:

    Iran is well over 3000 years old, meaning that it has stood the test of TIME! And while your ancestors did not even imagine in their wildest dreams about a continent between Pacific and Atlantic, my ancestors created 3 “almost consecutive” empires the shortest surviver of which survived much longer than your empire whose dying breaths have started already! Make no mistake, I am not saying that making “empires” is something to boast about, to the contrary it is something to be ashamed of. All I am saying is that have passed through these stages that you are passing some 2500-3000 years ago and as such we know quite a bit more about life and civilization than you do!

    During these 3000 years we have seen many many barbarians such as yourself. Alexander the “great”(!!!), Arab invasion, Barbarian Turkish hordes, Genghis Khan you name it!
    Heck we even produced quite a few barbarians of our own: Cambyses, Dariush the “great” (!!!), Xerxes …
    All those barbarians invaded Iran, massmurdered and plundered; Genghis Khan especially killed no less than ~100,000 people in the city of Merv ALONE.
    WHAT HAPPENED?
    TODAY, IN RETROSPECT WHAT IS IT THAT REMAINS OF ALEXANDER AND GENGHIS? EVEN THEIR BONES HAVE TURNED INTO DUST! ON THE OTHER HAND IRAN STANDS TALL!

    So in a language that you would understand let me say it: “Bring it on!” We have stood the test of time and we have defeated Genghis in the course of history! And believe it or not, you are not even half scary as the “Khan”!

  66. James Canning says:

    Cyrus,

    Some of those who know Dick Cheney quite well believe he was unhinged by the events of “9/11″.

    Syria has no territorial claims on Iraq, and it was Iraq that started the war with Iran, hoping to take control of the entire waterway leading into the Gulf. But Cheney was right, in 1994, that overthrowing the government of Iraq could bog the US down in a quagmire for years.

  67. James Canning says:

    WigWag,

    You seem to argue that Iran poses a military threat to another country. What country would that be?

  68. Cyrus says:

    Well, Cheney is on record in 1994 specifically saying that an invasion of Iraq would lead to a quagmire — and yet he pressed for the invasion of Iraq:

    Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein’s government, then what are you going to put in its place? That’s a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off: part of it, the Syrians would like to have to the west, part of it — eastern Iraq — the Iranians would like to claim, they fought over it for eight years. In the north you’ve got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey.

    It’s a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.

    So apparently the costs of getting stuck in quagmires is not a deterrent to invasion.

  69. James Canning says:

    The British/French/Israeli scheme to take control of the Suez Canal in 1956 made good sense, in comparison to idiotic notions of a US attack on Iran. What possible gain would inure to the US from attacking Iran? Zip.

  70. Pirouz says:

    Wigwag, you conflate the intentions of “threat” with “defense”, to provide an unrealistic perspective.

    For example, take into consideration Iran’s SSM forces. Iran has consistently stated that these forces are fielded for their deterrent value, and they are to be used in a retaliatory (defensive) capacity. Does that constitute a threat or a means of defense? That’s very important in providing a meaningful analysis.

    You obviously have a strong anti-Iran bias and you may be pro-war. That would explain the basis of your misperception regarding Iran’s military posture, which is critical in correctly interpreting Iran’s ultimate intentions.

  71. WigWag,

    “Since launching http://www.TheRaceForIran.com, we have very rarely intervened in the comments that many of our readers have written with regard to our pieces.”

    You should be flattered!

    I thought your recent posts made some interesting and valid points, as I pointed out. Personally, I didn’t consider your main point – that the Leveretts say different things about Iran’s military capacity depending on the point they are trying to establish – to be among them, but that’s just one man’s opinion. Apparently others did, given the many heated responses you received. I wonder, though, whether those responders – and perhaps even the Leveretts themselves – were responding more to your tone. I suppose I should elaborate, but readers of this board either know what I mean or they don’t, and so “tone” is probably good enough to get my point across.

    In any case, it looks like the Leveretts are taking the fight to you here. Lesser beings might respond with ad hominem attacks or cherry-picked quotations or similar cheap shots. I have faith that we can expect better than that from you.

  72. Castellio says:

    It’s good to get this posting. I, for one, don’t think the US “will invade”, but it might indeed bomb, and may be drawn into bombing “even against its wishes”, should Israel contrive for those circumstances, as many believe it conspires to do.

    Yes, such a bombing would have an effect on American military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, but that would only lead to a more vicious bombing against population centres in Iran. Such retaliation will not help the dead servicemen in Iraq, but it may, momentarily, seem “the right thing to do”.

    China, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Germany, other holders of the American debt, will do nothing in the short run. That immediate eventuality is, I think, over stressed. They will continue to buy American debt. Proof? They do now, and look at the current political and economic reality. But over time…

    Certainly, many hundreds of millions of people world-wide will continue to make alternate decisions for themselves and their countries, eschewing American lead, American industries and American culture, and working to change those governments that still believe in being America’s best friend. The movement, already started, will pick up speed, not only in the obvious countries like Jordan or Egypt, but also in Germany, Japan, and India (let alone Turkey and Brazil). It’s a gradual process, but a sure one, wide spread and impossible to stop. Loss of stature is not easy to regain.

    America may win a few battles in the short run, but will certainly lose its economic privileges and international advantages in the long run, over-whelmed by problems it never saw coming, with its intellecutal class never quite understanding why.

  73. jay says:

    The unclassified CDA (2010) on Iran (Iran military report) is informative. A nice and readable copy can be found at:

    http://www.scribd.com/Iran-Military-Report-2010/d/30377607

  74. WigWag says:

    “However, in response to the piece we published on May 25, “Obama Steps Up America’s Covert War Against Iran”, one reader seemed to misconstrue passages from one of our previous articles regarding Iranian military capabilities and the consequences of a prospective U.S.-Iranian military confrontation.” (Leverett/Mann-Leverett)

    The “reader” didn’t misconstrue your remark, he reported it accurately; in fact, he quoted your remark verbatim. The remark speaks for itself. What you’ve chosen to do now is revise and extend your remark; that’s fine.

    Nor did the “reader” ever suggest that your assertions about Iranian military weakness meant you thought an American attack would be cost-free, easy or wise. In fact, the “reader” referred to the arsenal of asymmetric options that Iran has available to it and the “reader” mentioned that Iran could impose real costs by utilizing these options. You’ve now made the same argument in this post.

    The problem is your tendency to selectively make assertions that you believe support whatever argument you are attempting to make at the moment. When you want to suggest that Iran is not a military threat to anyone, you bolster your argument by asserting that Iran is militarily weak and couldn’t threaten the United States or anyone else even if it wanted to. Conversely when you want to make the argument that attacking Iran would have significant repercussions, including military repercussions, you reverse your argument and point out how Iranian belligerence can be backed up by force.

    Anyone who is a serious reader of your words (and I am), notices this tendency of yours on a variety of different topics pertinent to Iran. You may think that this technique makes your arguments more convincing but you are incorrect; it makes your arguments less convincing.

  75. Kathryn says:

    The USA might start the war, but they sure as heck won’t be the one’s to finish it.

  76. Well worth reading is the NY Review of Books article by Peter Beinart:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/jun/10/failure-american-jewish-establishment/?pagination=false

    and the responses in Foreign Policy at:

    foreignpolicy DOT com/articles/2010/05/21/the_special_relationship?page=full