Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 19, 2009
WAR: The Biggest Domino

I know it's redundant to tell people to read Krauthammer - really, you are doing Friday wrong if you don't read his column every week - but he boils down the essential stakes in Iran neatly, and reminds us that this isn't just about Ahmadenijad vs Mousavi. Samples:

[T]his incipient revolution is no longer about the election. Obama totally misses the point. The election allowed the political space and provided the spark for the eruption of anti-regime fervor that has been simmering for years and awaiting its moment. But people aren't dying in the street because they want a recount of hanging chads in suburban Isfahan. They want to bring down the tyrannical, misogynist, corrupt theocracy that has imposed itself with the very baton-wielding goons that today attack the demonstrators.

As Bill Clinton might put it: it's the mullahs, stupid. Krauthammer, as always, looks at this from the broader perspective of regional/global strategic dynamics. The stakes, if the regime falls:

Imagine the repercussions. It would mark a decisive blow to Islamist radicalism, of which Iran today is not just standard-bearer and model, but financier and arms supplier. It would do to Islamism what the collapse of the Soviet Union did to communism -- leave it forever spent and discredited.

In the region, it would launch a second Arab spring. The first in 2005 -- the expulsion of Syria from Lebanon, the first elections in Iraq and early liberalization in the Gulf states and Egypt -- was aborted by a fierce counterattack from the forces of repression and reaction, led and funded by Iran.

Now, with Hezbollah having lost elections in Lebanon and with Iraq establishing the institutions of a young democracy, the fall of the Islamist dictatorship in Iran would have an electric and contagious effect. The exception -- Iraq and Lebanon -- becomes the rule. Democracy becomes the wave. Syria becomes isolated; Hezbollah and Hamas, patronless. The entire trajectory of the region is reversed.

All hangs in the balance.

Krauthammer does oversimplify a bit; there are forces in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan that are also crucial to the counterrevolution against democratizing and liberalizing the region. But in neither of those states do the reactionaries have full control of the government the way they do in Iran (internal Saudi and Pakistani politics being deeply Byzantine), and changing the Iranian regime would put those forces in a much weaker position within their own states in the same way it would isolate Syria.

As Krauthammer notes, and as I discussed yesterday, Obama is on the wrong side of this - not in the Ahmadenijad vs Mousavi dispute, on which he's properly neutral, but on the broader people vs mullahs battle, in which his tepid responses and olive branches to the mullahs are effectively placing him on the side of the billy clubs. The House just voted 405-1 to "condemn" repression in Iran and stand with the dissidents; only Ron Paul, who votes against these things as a matter of course, sided with the mullahs and the White House.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:44 PM | War 2007-14 | Comments (35) | TrackBack (0)

I guess his teleprompter forgot to tell him what to say!

While the above is true, it is really because Obama just doesn't "get it". He does get that there is a war going on and this is a battle in it. After all, he is a liberal and a socialist.

Posted by: Lee at June 19, 2009 2:28 PM

I asked this before and received no response:

What makes anybody think Obama cares one way or the other about the freedom of 65 million Iranians? What's in it for him politically?

Posted by: ShoelesJoe at June 19, 2009 9:00 PM

Barry Vladimir Hussein Soetero Obama shows more deference to the mad mullahs than he does to the opposition party in the American republic. He is vicious and plays for keeps when it comes to the Utopian aims of American Leftists, but he we wants to get along with the world's most detestable dictators.

Posted by: Edgycater at June 19, 2009 9:02 PM

At one time, about 20 years ago, Krauthammer was worth reading. He is now so reflexively neocon (current idiom for moron), that his column is good only to line the bird cage.

The president has had perfect pitch here doing exactly what he should be doing. Crank, you once wrote of me, "when your only tool is a hammer, the world looks like a nail." For you and your fellow travellers, when your on;ly tool is the military, every crisis looks like an excuse for another war. Though, always careful to be sure that someone else's relatives fight in it.

Posted by: Magrooder at June 19, 2009 11:10 PM

What makes you think that I, or Krauthammer, am calling for a US invasion of Iran? All we're asking right now is for Obama to use his mouth, which is supposed to be his greatest asset. Not that that's the only thing he could do, but it's the very least.

Posted by: Crank at June 19, 2009 11:14 PM

well, if Krauthammer says it, we should follow him.
After all, he was spoy on when he what was it that he predicted correctly???
Oh yeah, absolutely nothing.
Hence the reason the liberal media (hilarious) still gives him a megaphone.

Posted by: Berto at June 20, 2009 12:00 AM

Krauthammer's a moron. He's been wrong about everything going back decades.
That he still has a megaphone is all you need to know about how ridiculous the "liberal media" claim is.

Posted by: Berto at June 20, 2009 12:02 AM

If Obama speaks up for "the people" he is effectively speaking in support of Mousavi—it's his supporters in the streets. This of course removes the supposed neutrality you just praised him for and simultaneously give the mullahs the go-ahead to crush the "American-led" revolution.

The House, the French, everyone else can pipe up as much as they want—it's Obama that will represent the U.S. sanctioning the protests, and that's exactly what can't occur.

Krauthammer is wrong yet again, and so are his acolytes (you guys).

Posted by: Mr Furious at June 20, 2009 1:39 AM

Crank doesn't want war or an invasion of Iran. He just wants Obama to talk and not back it up with action. The same thing he criticized Bill Clinton for regarding Iraq.
Let's face it. Crank and Krauthammer aren't offering real advice on foreign policy. They're just trying to undermine Obama. As usual.

Posted by: Berto at June 20, 2009 9:43 AM

Hey Berto!

What suggestions do you have? What do you think Obama should do?

Easy to be negative-harder to actually put forth suggestions.

Posted by: Lee at June 20, 2009 9:54 AM

Its really funny, but ultimately sad, watching President Empty Suit coming up short over and over again-its weird no on saw this coming during the election-oh wait!

Crank, BO is just continuing the failed liberal modus operandi in foreign relations of the last 35 plus years-ie peace through weakness.

Ignore, hide behind the UN and other toothless, dickless, spineless constructs of the international community which do nothing but that as Americans we are suppose to defer to, talk big but vague and in the end do nothing. We have North Korea gearing up to launch missiles at the US and what is the only thing that can possibly protect us against us-the UN? the international community? ......,oh yeah the missile defense oppossed by Dems for the last 25 years.

BTW-I guess we can talk about Iran for a little while more, it is good diversion from the fact that gas prices have risen for 50 plus days and are now hitting 3 dollars a gallon in some parts of the country. I wonder why the media isn't reporting that story? Guess they are too busy writing puff pieces about Michele Obamas fashion statements.

Posted by: dch at June 20, 2009 11:55 AM

Berto—100% correct.

Posted by: Mr Furious at June 20, 2009 1:54 PM

"...the fact that gas prices have risen for 50 plus days and are now hitting 3 dollars a gallon in some parts of the country.

So, dch, were you pinning that on Bush last year when it was over $4/gallon? Somehow I doubt it.

Gas is and will always be at least $2-3/gallon depending on demand. Fifty days ago was Memorial Day—it's now officially summer. Gasoline ALWAYS goes up in the summer.

Next stupid assertion, please?

Posted by: Mr Furious at June 20, 2009 2:04 PM

Its always funny how you people can never make alogical argument. My comment was not about blame, though I will go into later, it was about the media being so far in the tank they have grown gills.

The gas prices going up under Bush were mentioned and reported by the media 24/7 -do you deny that? Do you deny that the American public was hit over the head constantly with stories about rising oil prices in news print, cable news, regular news? Do you deny that rising gas prices was not used as a bludgeon against Busht? Be honest.... for once.

Now the prices are going up under Obumbler and not a frigging word is being said. Nothing at all. I understand that lefties are sheep, but at what point does the total media bias become so ridiculous even you people finally get it.

Moving on, gas hasn't always and does not now have to be $2-$3. We sit on an ocean of oil in this country-(ANWR, offshore, oil shale, tar pits) that might have as much as 11 times the reserves as Saudi Arabia. But who prevents us from drilling for it? Who? We haven't opened a new oil distillery in 30 years because of environmental rules and litigation? Whose fault is that? We haven't built a new nuclear plant in 30 years-who has stopped them from being built? We sit on a continent full of coal, but are prevented from using it. Which party and which President wants to bankrupt the coal industry? Etc, etc, etc

So yeah I do blame the left/Democratic Party for high energy prices and if you were honest-so would you.

Posted by: dch at June 20, 2009 2:50 PM

Crank, we had 8 years of "tough" cowboy rhetoric -- remember, "bing 'em on" -- and that exacerbated to untold degrees our standing in the region. An unprovoked, unnecessary, ill-planned and poorly-executed war followed, which again created only hatred of the US.

It will take years of consistnent thouhtful words and actions to repair the damge of the Bush/Cheney regime. To follow the advice of you and Krauthammer and simply revert to mindless jingoism would do nothing but make US imperialism a distraction from the real issues of a people trying to secure thier freedom.

Posted by: Magrooder at June 20, 2009 3:47 PM

Magrooder is correct. George "Bring 'em On" Bush was a trigger happy cowboy. When the Iraq war started to go bad and the insurgency was killing American soldiers, our sub-literate disgrace of a president encouraged the insurgents to kill more Americans. And kill they did, sending thousands of U.S. soldiers back to this country in boxes, dead. Yeah, I want a cowboy in the White House so that more innocents can be slaughtered. After cheerleeding Bush for eight horrific years of death and destruction, the conservatives have got a lot of nerve criticizing Obama.

Posted by: steve at June 20, 2009 5:28 PM

"Trigger happy cowboy"-13 years of UN Sanctions, tens of thousands of violations of the cease fire agreement, Oil for Food scandal, 300 thousand bodies in mass graves, ethnic cleansing of the Kurds and the marsh arabs, 15 UN Security Council Resolutions, Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 , etc, etc, etc, oh and his Dem President predecessor who did jack sh.t regarding anything about defence/intelligence for 8 years.

You and the other fools/sheep just need to be quiet. You either don't know what you are talking about or your liars with no honor. Isn't interesting that we really never hear about the Iraq "quagmire" anymore. Oh wait, it doesn't support the lefty media narrative that is feed to the sheeple. Its facinating listening to you people opine on casualties-are you aware that the projected casualties for the 1st 6 months of the war was aroung 6 -7 thousand KIAs? People die in wars, I guess when you live in a non-reality like you do that you don't understand that. The casualties for this war have been exteremely low when based on actualy history-but you know what your masters told you otherwise, so that's what you will parrot..

Posted by: dch at June 21, 2009 5:55 PM

Hmm, so apparently this is a blog full of ignorantly nonsensical political takes rather than baseball talk. I'll have to remember not to click on it in the future.

Posted by: Andrew at June 21, 2009 6:58 PM

"The gas prices going up under Bush were mentioned and reported by the media 24/7 -do you deny that? Do you deny that the American public was hit over the head constantly with stories about rising oil prices in news print, cable news, regular news?"

Reading CNN, as I usually do, I find this article:

"Obama vs. the Oil Bubble"

It's very balanced, objective, pretty bland actually.

Posted by: MVH at June 21, 2009 11:12 PM

dch is HUGE supporter of the UN, don't you know. When their weapons inspectors said there were no WMDs in Iraq, that was good enough for him.
And he absolutely supports the invasion of any country that violates UN treaties. Just ask Israel.

Posted by: Berto at June 22, 2009 1:11 AM

An awful lot of ad hominum here with little to say about Krauthammer's point. I don't even think Mr. Furious read Crank's post, let alone Krauthammer's.

It isn't about the election anymore and hasn't been for days. It's about the legitimacy of the regime now, the whole political construct in Iran. It should be easy to pick a side now.

All this garbage about warmongering and Cheney is nothing more than a tired method of trolling. You guys need to face the facts here--Obama is either a spineless douche or he actually supports the mullahs. You can pick one, but it has to be one of the two. The time for playing softball has passed.

Posted by: spongeworthy at June 22, 2009 9:05 AM

Obama said the following in an interview, and this is what he wants to avoid:

"The last thing that I want to do," the president said, "is to have the United States be a foil for -- those forces inside Iran who would love nothing better than to make this an argument about the United States. That's what they do. That's what we've already seen. We shouldn't be playing into that. There should be no distractions from the fact that the -- Iranian people are seeking to -- let their voices be heard.

"Now, what we can do is bear witness and say -- to the world that the, you know, incredible demonstrations that we've seen is a testimony to -- I think what Dr. King called the -- the arc of the moral universe. It's long but it bends towards justice."

This is fine with me. For the time being, let this Iranian repression speak for itself.

Posted by: MVH at June 22, 2009 9:33 AM

MVH, yours is a defensible opinion. But why couldn't he have made the same statement last week, after it became clear this was no longer just an election dispute?

It looks to me like he's hoping it'll all go away.

Posted by: spongeworthy at June 22, 2009 2:03 PM

"But why couldn't he have made the same statement last week, after it became clear this was no longer just an election dispute?"

What difference does it make?? All this has happened in Iran without the prodding of Obama. The mullahs' culture of oppression is their own undoing and would have been no matter what Obama has done since he's been in office. The same holds for Reagan vis-a-vis the USSR. These movements have their own internal dynamic that have little to do with the opinions of foreign governments. Regardless of whether Obama, the US House or the French verbally support it, it is happening.

The only meaningful question is whether we should get involved in an overt or covert military way.

Posted by: MVH at June 22, 2009 3:39 PM

I'm sorry, but you're just wrong on that. No one said it better than Solyzenitzhen. You need a little history catch-up.

This is from a guy who respects your opinions even when I disagree. You couldn't be more wrong or have cited a worse example.

Whether you and your type want to admit it or not, this country is and has been for a long time a beacon of freedom. When the ramparts go up, many have looked to us for moral legitimacy and we have answered the call.

Ask yourself this: Do you think Bush would have responded the same way? Do you think the mullahs would have forgotton about the 250,000 American troops in Iraq building sewer plants these days? I'll give this answer to you for free--they wouldn't dare push this with the madman Bush and his army on their doorstep.

Before you get your back up at me, please do a little research on your example and think about what I have said. I wouldn't waste the pixels on anybody else.

Posted by: spongeworthy at June 22, 2009 8:15 PM

I'm not questioning that this country has been a source a freedom or inspiration, but it is not our words that move these type of events.

You ask me what Bush would have done - he would have given a fire-and-brimstone speech just like you would want him to. My point is that we would be in the same situation we are now: the Iranians rigged an election, and the Iranian public acted predictably.

Other than that, we still have troops in Iraq, just like under Bush, which is why the relevant question to me is a military one. Do we intervene or stay out?

My Soviet analogy is apt, but that is a longer post.

Posted by: MVH at June 22, 2009 10:47 PM

"long time beacon of freedom"
Except for the "quaint" Geneva Conventions, of course.
If only we didn't pay attention, your argument would be apt.

Posted by: Berto at June 23, 2009 2:40 AM


Notice that I didn't argue with his statement that the US has long been a beacon of freedom. Neither should you - it's a true statement.

Posted by: MVH at June 23, 2009 9:27 AM

My Soviet analogy is apt, but that is a longer post.

You don't think there was any internal effect when Reagan quoted Solyzenitzhen back to the Soviets, calling the regime "evil"? It made quite a stink at the time. I think a lot of Soviets would disgaree with you.

Or you could take Lech Walesa's word:

In the Europe of the 1980s, Ronald Reagan presented a vision. For us in Central and Eastern Europe, that meant freedom from the Soviets. Mr. Reagan was no ostrich who hoped that problems might just go away. He thought that problems are there to be faced. This is exactly what he did.

It's a good piece, puts history in some perspective, one you wouldn't get at a liberal arts college.

And I think you underestimate the potential threat of some kinds of military action. Actions the mullahs are well aware we won't be taking under The One, but could never be sure we wouldn't under the madman Bush.

Posted by: spongeworthy at June 23, 2009 10:11 AM

Exactly how would Obama use any military action? If you guys play poker like you use your political views, I would love to sit at the table with you. You are aware Mousavi was selected to run for President by the Ruling Council in Iran. If Obama outwardly encouraged a revolution in Iran, we have no means to provide any long term support to protect the people (see Gulf War I and Venezuela) from a even tougher government crackdown. Also, based on America's history with Iranian politics if he speaks to sharply it will give the Iran Government a great propaganda tool. So, the current tactic is working by parsing words and working to ensure the images of the crackdown get out of Iran. As any career diplomat will tell you the best ways to get things done is by back door diplomacy not over the top theatrics. So if the Obama administration is forging bonds and providing support with the leaders of the very young revolt in Iran it will take time for change to come about. Anyone who is promoting saber rattling or over the top actions are not honestly looking at the facts but only looking to criticize Obama. But, in doing so have exposed themselves as an idiot in regards to world politics on how to build a counter revolution. Crank, nice try and you theory works if you remove common sense and history from your post. It is simple, you do not want an immature government in place in Iran, the Mullahs grip on the government is great and can not simply be removed quickly.

Posted by: javaman at June 23, 2009 1:40 PM

What kind of military action? Beyond the implicit threat which would exist under any president besides a liberal Democrat, you mean?

Well, they're holding military exercises in Iran today--I'll bet we could make a bollocks of those if we chose to. Jam their electronics, enforce a no-fly zone or some such just to expose how weak their military is in comparison. Do you really not think that would put some starch in the protestors?

I don't think we need to be doing that or really anything because the threat to the mullahs is real this time and no way are they interested in a serious outside military engagement. Just maintain a posture of strength and, at the same time, say what needs to be said regarding the demonstrations. Oh yes, and do it on a timely basis.

Posted by: spongeworthy at June 23, 2009 3:21 PM

You are suggesting we rattle the saber while engaged in two other wars? Why not just send up an EP3 and suck all of their signals out of the sky. Somehow I already I am sure we are dong just that. Why waste the effort on jamming communications for some predetermined bombing runs? The Mullahs are under serious internal pressure for the first time, they can't lock down the images getting out (I am quite sure America is making sure that information gets out). So moving slowly and building the proper alliances in the unhappy political environment in Iran is the most prudent move. But then again we could just call up Chalabi and friends and repeat the same mistakes we made in Iraq.

Posted by: javaman at June 23, 2009 5:15 PM

I'm not so sure we're doing anything of the sort and don't understand why you would think we are.

This is not the first time the mullahs have been under serious internal pressure. But this is the most precarious situation they've been in, no doubt about it.

I get that this is the most prudent move.

Your point regarding Chalabi is taken. I could go on for a while on that one and I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have much to disagree about.

You seem to have a grip here--tell me, do you really not feel like we're missing an opportunity here? And that people are paying with their lives?

Posted by: spongeworthy at June 23, 2009 10:56 PM

The line of communication out of Iran have not closed and I am sure the Mullahs have tried to no avail to close them. So, somebody is keeping things open so the images can get out. You have to remember the movement is only days old in Iran so we have to pick our friend carefully. Move to quickly and publicly and we will be paying for many years to come. Most deals are made away for eyes and ears, there is no way to say if this is a missed opportunity. To many public statements will only please the politically stupid.

Posted by: javaman at June 24, 2009 12:21 AM

You don't think there was any internal effect when Reagan quoted Solyzenitzhen back to the Soviets, calling the regime "evil"?

What I meant by "make a difference" was "meaningfully affect the outcome," not whether it had any effect at all. Certainly, Reagan's words were inspiring to the dissidents. But had Reagan not made those speeches, the outcome would have been the same. Solyzenitzhen would still have spoken out against the Soviets. The Soviet people didn't need Reagan to tell them they were being oppressed.

Keep in mind, the US spoke out against the Soviet actions against the Hungarians in 1956 and the Czechs in 1968, and the Soviets still rolled in the tanks. We simply weren't willing to intervene in their sphere of influence, and they knew it. And given that history, the Soviets could be sure we wouldn't have stopped them in the Gorbachev years if they wanted to roll in the tanks again. This is why I don't give Reagan a lot of credit for the turn of events there.

As for Iran, I think the same chain of events would have taken place if Bush were president: the Iranians would have rigged an election, there would be protests, and the gov't would strike back. I don't think they would have been deterred. Putting myself in their position, they would not think that a US intervention would be probable under those circumstances, regardless of what Bush might have said differently.

Now, as you an javaman are discussing, whether or not we should intervene is a difficult question given our history in Iran and the difficulty of knowing who to back. It's still a fluid situation there.

By the way, since you referred to me as "you and your type" above, I better clarify what my "type" is. When it comes to international relations, I can guarantee you that basis of my opinons are vastly different from those on the left. My assumptions about the international system are those of Hobbes, Morganthau and Carr.

Posted by: MVH at June 24, 2009 12:25 PM
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