Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
December 9, 2005
WAR: What's Farsi for "Mein Kampf"?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad engages in some Holocaust denial and suggests that Israelis should be relocated to Europe. (More here, as even Reuters can't spin this story to create an equivalence between Israel and Iran).

You know you have a bad case of Holocaust denial when it prompts Germany to call your ambassador on the carpet, Russia to denounce your Israel-bashing, and even Kofi Annan to express "shock".

Ahmadinejad's remarks raise again the question: when a world leader threatens the unspeakable, to we take him at his word? Nobody took Hitler at his word until it was too late. We didn't really take bin Laden at his word until after September 11. On the other hand, even today there are those who argue that we should ignore the words of Saddam Hussein, relentlessly calling for jihad against America and trumpeting the September 11 attacks, in determining whether he was a threat.

We have Ahmadinejad's thinking, in his own words. Will we do anything before it's too late?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:07 PM | War 2005 | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

George W. Bush legacy in the Middle East may consist primarily of establishing Iran as a top tier power. Now if you’re looking for someone to argue this a good result, keep looking. It’s an awful result, evidenced only most recently by the outburst you reference. But with the sky-rocketing oil prices, Iran’s coffers are overflowing. And with Iran’s arch enemy now removed from power by the United States and replaced with Shiite dominated chaos, its influence in the region has been strengthened. So now to reverse this disturbing trend, you want to follow Neo Con’s playbook once again. Aren’t they the ones who got us into this mess?

Posted by: pat_rick at December 9, 2005 12:39 PM

we have been hearing a lot of nastiness out of Iran's leaders of late. I do not believe it is sabre rattling either. I think you have to take them seriously and ramp up a reactive plan. And begin working on a proactive plan to deal with the Iranian menace. I do not believe this comment or any of the Iranian comments of late are spoken from a true position fo strength. Efforts to further destabilize the mullahs must occur and reaching out to what passes for friends in the middle east is necessary to come up with either a containment plan or a plan to oust the current regime.

Posted by: Joe at December 9, 2005 12:50 PM

The UN will submit a submission to a resolution to request sanctions...blah, blah, blah. This regime is a serious threat to the stability of the world. We cannot sit on our hands, but we cannot take the burden of this alone either. Hopefully his rambling will cause some real activity in the global community.

Posted by: N8dog at December 9, 2005 1:42 PM

Perhaps blowing $250 billion (and rising) in Iraq doesn't look like such a super-wonderful idea now. Better cut some more taxes to pay for all this.

Posted by: jim at December 9, 2005 3:44 PM

not sure what pat_rick's point is on the neocons.... How would an Iraq under Saddam & continuing UN-sanctions have put a stop to Iran's power grab? or somehow reduced the world demand for oil? Israel, as a functioning democracy, remains a positive force in the Mideast. Iraq will soon occupy a similar position.

Posted by: Trusader at December 9, 2005 3:57 PM

If you think Iraq is going to be some shining beacon of democracy you are drinking way too much of the kool-aid. Let's see, who else is democratic in the Mideast? That's right, Iran.

Posted by: jim at December 9, 2005 4:12 PM

Jim, you can't believe that Iran is a real democracy. The mullahs hand-pick the candidates and only give them a small scope of power. And the current president is one of the people who gave the mullahs that power to start with.

The Iraqi government is not in any way comparable. Sure, we won't like everything they do. We don't always like everything the Israelis do, or the French. But they're still democracies and a big improvement for us and their own people on the likes of Saddam.

I don't see how leaving Saddam in power would in any way have made the Iranians less dangerous. If anything, a hostile Saddam next door would have provided even more incentive to develop WMD programs.

Posted by: The Crank at December 9, 2005 4:23 PM

Trusader: **How would an Iraq under Saddam & continuing UN-sanctions have put a stop to Iran's power grab?**

In a very Henry Kissinger sort of way, I think it is obvious: Iraq was always Iran's number one foreign policy concern - we resolved it for them. And now the Shiite majority in Iraq are now free to welcome and support their Shiite cousins in Iran, which they could not even consider doing under Saddam.

To deny this, is to deny reality. Putting in Michael Corleone terms, it would go something like: "don't take out your enemy's enemies without international support and a clear post invasion strategy."

We certainly could not rely on their stalemate indefinitely, and we should have continued to pay this area LOTs of attention, BUT the risk of enhancing Iran's status was one of many, many risks I don't think these geniuses took into consideration.

Trusader: **or somehow reduced the world demand for oil?**

You are correct the Iraq war is not the primary cause of rising oil prices, but oil production in that country is still below pre-invasion levels. So it has contributed. Not as much, however, as GWB's love of fossil fuels. His most recent CAFE standards continue to encourage gas guzzlers, in a riduculous attempt to prop up Detroit. But that is a story for another day. (and please don't write back that we should allow drilling in Alaska, the Hamptons, Cape Cod or anywhere else....thank you).


Posted by: pat_rick at December 9, 2005 4:32 PM

My point to "Trusader" was that Iraq will not be a real democracy, will almost certainly become a theocracy and will probably end up along the lines of the Iranian government. The odds that Iraq becomes some new stronghold of Western style democracy that we can point to as something worthwhile that comes out of the huge mess we created are essentially zero.

Posted by: jim at December 9, 2005 4:42 PM

By toppling Saddam and being overcommitted to Iraq and committed in Afghanistan (albeit minimally) and to the so-called war on terror in general, we no longer have the strategic initiative of threatening Iran. I often wonder whether the neocon point of view even jibes with a level-headed military assessment of our capabilities viz. threats like Iran. It seems to me that the Crank seems to think that somehow our war in Iraq is not linked to the rise in Iranian influence in Iraq.

The Crank is simply in denial of how Hussein and the Iranians were at war with each other (either cold or hot) for nearly 20 years and instead makes a specious suggestion that a hostile Hussein would have spurred Iran's intention to develop militarized nuclear warheads. Wouldn't Iran had been even MORE motivated to develop nuclear warheads during the 1980s?

With Saddam in power, he basically acted to stop any attempt at Iranian subversion (political or cultural) in Iraq. With Saddam gone and with our troop levels too low to protect Iraq's borders, Iran is now able to sustain and extend its efforts to dominate Shiite factions in Iraq. I have to point out that the Iranians didn't provoke these hard looks at its nuclear capability until the Iranians were sure that the US could no longer enforce any negotiations using sheer military power.

It's not hard to guess that the minute the Iranians figured out the US was overstretched, world efforts to limit Iran's nuclear capability would have no teeth. Combined with the loss of a natural enemy in Iraq, the Iranians no longer have to worry about any local backlash should they further weaponize their nuclear warheads.

Clearly, the only lesson properly taught by the US in its last few encounters with Third World nations is that you MUST have nuclear weapons to be taken seriously by the US and to avert a military strike by the US military. North Korea and Pakistan already play this game. It's not surprising that Iran wants to play this game too.

Posted by: abenamer at December 9, 2005 4:46 PM

abenamer writes: "It's not hard to guess that the minute the Iranians figured out the US was overstretched, world efforts to limit Iran's nuclear capability would have no teeth. Combined with the loss of a natural enemy in Iraq, the Iranians no longer have to worry about any local backlash should they further weaponize their nuclear warheads."

First, the Iranian nuclear effort did not begin the day after we went back into Iraq.

Second, assuming we are overstretched, why is the rest of the world unable to provide some dental assistance to this effort?

Third, can anyone provide some recent examples of "local backlash" acting as a deterrent to a nation's "further weaponiz[ing] their nuclear warheads"?

Fourth, "natural enemy"? in an earlier post, pat_rick informed us that the Iraqi Shiite majority is actually reasonably disposed to Iran and its Shiite population so it would seem that it was only Saddam that made Iraq a natural enemy of Iran (and Kuwait and Israel and Saudi Arabia). Does abenamer disagree with pat_rick or are we tip-toeing around an assertion that, looking back, the Iraqis and the world were actually better off with Saddam? (an assertion I unequivocally reject)

Posted by: Trusader at December 9, 2005 5:34 PM

If anyone's going to pin Iran's newfound hostility to the war in Iraq, then the same people should be prepared to credit Lebanon's Cedar Revolution and Libya's abandonment of WMD on the same source. Fair's fair.

Posted by: tsmonk at December 9, 2005 6:21 PM

Trusader: "assuming we are overstretched, why is the rest of the world unable to provide some dental assistance to this effort?"

Ideally for the United States, this would take place under our leadership, via the United Nations. Too bad all of our alliances are in shambles. Now we'll just have to hope for the best. And that's all we can do is hope.

2 "Third, can anyone provide some recent examples of "local backlash" acting as a deterrent to a nation's "further weaponiz[ing] their nuclear warheads"?"

Israeli warplanes struck the Osirak nuclear facility near Baghdad (6/7/81). Though like I said earlier, we couldn't over rely on the stalemate, but nobody can argue the two countries didn't require the other to expend military resources.

"are we tip-toeing around an assertion that, looking back, the Iraqis and the world were actually better off with Saddam? (an assertion I unequivocally reject)"

The Iraqi Shiites & Kurds are probably better off - they are no longer oppressed, but their country is a bit of a mess.

The Iranians - better off (as discussed above).

The United States - not better off; our military is overextended; we've blown through $300 billion in borrowed funds; our alliances are strained; we've lost any apetite for international confrontation; and worst of all - we played our best card (military might) and it got us nowhere.

Yes, we don't have to worry about Saddam anymore, but we payed far too high a price. Do you know the United States almost made a profit off the first Iraqi War, because so many countries contributed? It was a little different this time around, no?

Posted by: pat_rick at December 9, 2005 7:09 PM

The Bush Derangement Syndrome emanating from some of these comments is disturbing. Apparently some people belive that history began when Bush came into office, and that everything that happens in the world is somehow tied to Bush. The fanaticism, it takes to believe such things has to be pretty high.

Posted by: andrew at December 10, 2005 10:29 AM

Pat, the Iraqis are Arab and the Iranians are Persian. Regardless of their common religion, they HATE, HATE each other because of that difference. There will be no Pan-Shi'a state, and the opposite may even happen with Iraqi and Iranian Shi'a vying for control of the religion.

Also, Iraqi Shi'a are still pissed about Iran's power grab of Arabistan, the southwestern part of modern Iran. That area is predominantly Arab, and does not get along well with the rest of Iran. When you hear of rioting in Iran, it's almost always in this region.

Just because they have a common religion does not mean they are fast friends - quite the opposite in fact. Once you have a basic understanding of the region, then we'll think of listening to you.

Posted by: Steven at December 11, 2005 12:24 AM

STEVEN, Even if they don't make merry together, you have to admit, Iran has less to worry about on its Western Border. Who would you rather have to the West if you were Iran - Saddam Hussein or Shiite dominated chaos?

Posted by: pat_rick at December 11, 2005 9:41 AM

By the way Steve, I don't claim to be an expert but I do read as much as I can on these developments. I don't recall reading seeing anything about the current relevance of the Arab/Persian conflict. Can you provide a link? Or are you getting this information from watching Disney's Aladdin? Thank you.

Posted by: pat_rick at December 11, 2005 4:59 PM

If I were Iran, I'd be more worried about a free agent Israel with a supporting Iraq than a dictator cooped up in his own country by the world's foremost military power. See: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-1522978,00.html

Re Arabistan's relevance:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran-Iraq_war - a general summary for you - Khuzestan is also known as Arabstan. See also the Persian Gulf (claimed by the Arabs as the Arabian Gulf) for another example of their mutual hate.

Posted by: Steven at December 11, 2005 6:44 PM
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