Selling the War with Iran

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nir rosen.jpg
Note from Steve Clemons. My colleague and friend Nir Rosen who has been one of America’s most significant chroniclers of the Islamic dimensions of America’s war in the Middle East has just become a regular contributer to The Washington Note. Please welcome him. And as always, the views he expresses are exclusively his own and not those necessarily of The Washington Note or mine. — Steve Clemons
In June of 2003, two months after the United States conquered Iraq, I sat in on a briefing given by US Army intelligence officers in that most Sunni of Iraq’s cities, Tikrit, to a couple of officers visiting from Baghdad. One of the American intelligence officers based in Saddam’s famous hometown explained that they were worried about “Shiite fingers” from Iran “creeping” up to Tikrit to establish an Iranian style government.
At a time when the mostly Sunni Iraqi resistance had already established itself and its ability was improving, I was astounded by how stupid the notion of an Iranian threat in Tikrit was. I have remained shocked, like many journalists and academics familiar with the region and its languages, that the Americans have shown no improvement in their understanding of the Muslim world with which they are so deeply engaged militarily and as an imperial power.
We should expect little interest in understanding the outside world from an insular and isolated government whose leaders show open contempt for their own people. And we should expect diplomatic and military officials themselves required to maintain ideological purity to voice an equally unsophisticated world view.
But too often the so called experts are equally ignorant. Remarkably, their lack of background, expertise or language skills and their repeated errors have not diminished the credibility of people such as Fred Kagan of the far right American Enterprise Institute (a Russia expert!), or Kenneth Pollock of the Brookings Institute or their cohorts.
Ridiculously, Kagan and his wife, both of whom have only gone on official tours of Iraq with US Army babysitters, and neither of whom know Arabic, described the recent clashes in Basra as an operation initiated by the “legitimate Government of Iraq and its legally constituted security forces [against] illegal, foreign-backed, insurgent and criminal militias serving leaders who openly call for the defeat and humiliation of the United States and its allies in Iraq and throughout the region.”
Why anybody even hires or publishes Kagan on the Middle East is a mystery, but there is nothing legitimate in the government of Iraq, it provides none of the services we would associate with a government, not even the pretense of a monopoly on violence, it was established under an illegitimate foreign military occupation and it is entirely unrepresentative of the majority of Sunnis and Shiites who are opposed to the American occupation and despise the Iraqi government.
Moreover the dominant parties in the government and in those units of the security forces that battled their political rivals in Basra and elsewhere are the ones closest to Iran. The leadership of the Iraqi government regularly consults Iranian officials and is closer to Iran than any other element in Iraq today. Moreover, the Americans have always blamed their failures in Iraq on outsiders, Baathists, al Qaeda, Iranians, because they refuse to admit that the Iraqi people don’t want them. So Iran is a convenient scapegoat to explain the strength of the Sadrists, a strength actually resulting from the fact that they are a genuinely popular mass movement. Blaming Iran also lets the Americans maintain the illusion that the Mahdi Army’s ceasefire is still in effect.


I expect this from the Bush administration and the ideologues who back it. But when the American media, which, in the build up to the American attack on Iraq abdicated its duty to challenge those in power and inform the public, continues to demonstrate the same lack of skepticism, it is very distressing.
In April I testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to attempt to explain what was really happening in Iraq, where I have spent most of the last five years, so that they could better challenge General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker during their Senate testimony. But it made little difference.
As always, little interest was shown in the Iraqi people, and the fact that they were enduring a brutal foreign military occupation. Those who opposed the war did so because it was too expensive for American taxpayers, not even because American men and women were dying for absolutely nothing, and certainly not because anybody cares about Iraqis. But one of the main themes I heard repeated by the General and the Ambassador and by the senators who questioned them, was that Iran was the bad guy in Iraq these days. They accused Iran of supporting “Shiite extremists” and said that Muqtada al Sadr was one such extremist. They even managed to blame Iran for the Iran-Iraq war, which Iraq had initiated with US backing. Iran was the bad guy and the US was fighting a proxy war against it.
There has never been any evidence of this, save the accusations of a US regime that still hopes it can score a last minute war against Iran, but lack of evidence did not stop the Washington Post editorial page from declaring war against Iran on April 13th.
The Post talked about the “growing aggressiveness of Iran,” taking at face value the Senate testimony of two politicized US officials about “Iranian-backed militias” which are the largest threat to U.S. forces and the Iraqi government.” This “proxy war in Iraq is just one front in a much larger Iranian offensive,” said the Post, citing Gaza and Lebanon as well as examples of “Iran’s military adventurism,” and stating that military force would have to be used to counter this “growing menace.” The Post actually thinks there is a way to “nurture” a “popular backlash against Iran’s military adventurism” in the region.
In a region devoid of democracy a popular backlash would not matter anyway, but Hizballah and Hamas are popular in the region, the U.S. and its occupation of Iraq are not popular. Perhaps with enough payoffs, cajoling and threats the U.S. can nurture a backlash among the unpopular dictators it supports in the Middle East. But the backlash by the people of the region is against America’s military adventurism, not Iran’s. The Americans hope to persuade the skeptical people of the region that Iran is their real enemy. And it was clear the Prime Minister and President of Iraq clearly did not view Iran as a threat when they welcomed Mahmud Ahmedinajad to Baghdad like a dear friend.
The Post‘s writers focus on claims to progress in Iran’s nuclear power program that are exaggerated while denigrating the National Intelligence Estimate‘s own claim that Iran’s nuclear program is on hold. And producing a nuclear device is about more than just centrifuges, and Iran is nowhere near progress in other important technologies that essential for a nuclear weapon. Iran’s religious and political leaders have forsworn nuclear weapons, its supreme religious ruler has repudiated them.
We cannot at once condemn Iran for being a theocracy and then disregard the rulings of its theocrats. Though with an aggressive nuclear Israel and U.S regularly rattling their sabers who could blame Iran even if it did seek the security nuclear weapons seem to provide? Hillary Clinton recently threatened to “totally obliterate” Iran while John McCain sings about bombing Iran and president Bush called al Qaeda and Iran two of the greatest threats to America in the 21st century. This is slightly hyperbolic since al Qaeda’s only successful attack against the U.S. on September 11 ago was a strategic pinprick, not to mention a lucky shot, and Iran has no global ambitions and no interest in attacking the U.S. and in fact has never invaded another country (Iraq started the Iran-Iraq war).
The repeated accusations of American officials do not suffice, as the catastrophic war in Iraq should have taught journalists who are still all too gullible and too willing to venerate automaton mouth pieces, even those who should know better, such as former secretary of state Colin Powell who gave an ignominious speech in front of the United Nations that was hailed by the media.
The truth is, most allegations about Iran’s role in Iraq and the region are unfounded or dishonest. Iran was responsible for ending the recent fighting in Basra and calming the situation after Iraqi parliamentarians who backed Prime Minister Maliki approached it. The Iranians, never close to Muqtada or his family, were so annoyed with Muqtada and his presence that they reportedly ordered him out of Iran where he had been living in virtual house arrest anyway since arriving six months earlier. Iranian officials and the state media clearly supported Prime Minister Maliki and the Iraqi government against what they described as “illegal armed groups” in the recent conflict in Basra, which is not surprising given that their main proxy in Iraq, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council dominates the Iraqi state and is Maliki’s main backer.
The Supreme Council is of course also the main proxy for the US in Iraq and somehow in the Senate testimony it was forgotten that its large Badr militia was established in Iran and is actually the only Iraqi opposition group to have fought on the Iranian side against Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war. Moreover, the Badr militia was a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that is so demonized today, and Badr dominates the ministry of interior, if not most of Iraq at the higher echelons. But none of this openly available information made its way to the Post’s editorial writers or the dominant discourse in the US.
If militias are the main problem in Iraq, then the U.S. policy of creating new Sunni militias and empowering them to rule walled off fiefdoms does not bode well for the weak Iraqi government, especially when these Sunni militias view the Iraqi government as their main enemy. These Sunni militias, called “Awakening groups,” Concerned Local Citizens, Iraqi Security Volunteers, Critical Infrastructure Security Guards and Sons of Iraq are composed of former resistance fighters who collaborated with al Qaeda to fight Shiites and the Americans but put their fight against the Americans on hold so as to concentrate on fighting the Shiites in the next round of the civil war. Iraq’s Shiites are not thrilled that the Sunni militias who were slaughtering them are now resurgent. In August 2007 the Mahdi Army had declared a “freeze,” often mistranslated as a ceasefire. But the US military and the Maliki-Badr militia alliance continued to arrest and target the Sadrists and the Mahdi Army. If anything, they violated the ceasefire.
Salah al Ubaidi, Muqtada al Sadr’s spokesmen recently admitted that his movement was not getting along with Iran. Iran had helped them in the past but accounts of large Iranian arms shipments were “greatly exaggerated.” Muqtada refused to be a slave to Iran he said, implying that other Iraqi Shiite leaders were. In fact Mahdi Army members in Iraq have taken to blaming the actions of their more notorious members on Iran, adopting a position similar, if disingenuous, to that of Iraq’s Sunnis. Al Ubaidi also recently denounced Iran, accusing it of sharing control of Iraq with the Americans and criticizing Iran for not objecting to the long term security deal the Americans and Prime Minister Maliki are working on, to make the American military presence a permanent one.
There is no proxy war in Iraq, because the US and Iran share the same proxy and the US installed that proxy and empowered it. Today, to the extent that we can talk about an Iraqi “state,” it is dominated by the Supreme Council and its Badr militia. The Sadrist movement of which the Mahdi Army is a loose militia is also the largest humanitarian organization in Iraq, providing homes, security, rations, clothes and other services to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. It is a complex movement and certainly is as guilty of crimes as all the other groups that took part in the Iraqi civil war, including the Americans.
But it is also the most popular and legitimate movement in Iraq, and the one sure to outlast the others, despite predictions by former Bush lackeys such as Dan Senor that it was losing ground. The American and Iraqi Army attacks only increased support for the Mahdi Army, justifying the feeling many poor Shiites have that they are marginalized and threatened. Now that they have walled off the Sadrist Shiite strong hold of Sadr City in Baghdad, the Americans are only increasing the feeling among Muqtada’s supporters that they are targeted just as they were under Saddam, who also besieged that area. The fact that the Americans are routinely killing civilians, including children, in Sadr City, will not win their Iraqi proxies any new supporters.
To the Post as to most establishment officials in the media and government, all social and political movements in the Middle East are either al Qaeda or Iranian plots, or for Senator McCain, a bit of both. These people are unable to see social and political movements in the Middle East as the collective action of poor and oppressed people. People in the region were anti-American before Islamism became the dominant trend, and they were battling American imperialism as secularists and nationalists. During the cold war every popular movement was blamed on a Soviet conspiracy. Now people in the region battle American imperialism as Islamists, but it is the fight that created the movements, not the other way around. And the fight continues.
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice pressured Iraq’s Arab neighbors to shield Iraq from Iran’s “nefarious influence.” Perhaps she was unaware that her government had introduced that influence when they anointed the Dawa party and the Supreme Council as the official Shiite parties in 2003. The idea that the Sunni dominated states around Iraq, which dislike Shiites, and which warned Bush not to invade Iraq because they feared a Shiite dominated states, would now persuade Iraq’s Shiite leaders not to have a strong relationship with their Iranian friends shows some lack of understanding. Moreover, a recent University of Maryland poll shows that most Arabs do not view Iran as a major threat but that they are overwhelmingly hostile to the Unites States in fact.
Lebanese Hizballah is not part of an Iranian conspiracy, it is a massively popular political party with more legitimacy than most other movements in Lebanon, and it is the only serious political party in Lebanon that is not built around one personality, but rather around enduring institutions. It is also a successful resistance movement admired throughout the region for defeating the Israelis while defying the Americans and thwarting undemocratic Saudi and American plans for Lebanon. One could just as easily say that the sectarian Sunnis and former warlords who control the Lebanese government are paralyzing that state by refusing to allow a more representative and legitimate distribution of power that would include Hizballah and its Christian allies.
Sunnis in the region have a racist sort of habit of viewing all Shiite Arabs as Persian, Safavid, Iranian disloyal fifth columnists. Like the Americans, they ignore the Lebanese nationalism of Hizballah and the Iraqi nationalism of Muqtada al Sadr and the Mahdi Army. Both movements are local and not part of any Shiite crescent. And if Hamas’s militancy is a problem then perhaps the 60 years of Israeli occupation and Palestinian dispossession should finally be addressed. There has not been a Hamas “buildup” in Gaza, as the Post states. Like Hizballah, like the Mahdi Army, like other popular social movements, it is part of the people and their struggle.
This same American alliance with the so called “moderate” Sunni Arab countries, which are in fact dictatorships with gruesome human rights records, is backing Sunni militias in Lebanon and nearly succeeded in a coup attempt to overthrow the democratically elected Hamas in Palestine and install Fatah thugs in their place. Iran indeed has a strategic alliance with Hamas and Hizballah, groups that the United States condemns as terrorists but millions of others view as national liberation movements who also provide for and protect their people. Why assume that the Bush administration’s interests are more legitimate than those of the Iranian regime’s? What is wrong with Iraqi resistance groups that oppose a foreign military occupation that has killed and imprisoned thousands of innocent civilians while bringing only ruin an already tortured country?
It is true that some Iraqi militias use Iranian weapons, but they also use American weapons, Soviet bloc weapons, Austrian weapons and anything else they can purchase. And the Mahdi Army actually often uses weapons originating with the Americans and given to the Iraqi Army and Police. Mahdi Army men also purchased weapons originating in Iran from offices of the Supreme Council and Badr in southern Iraq. Iranian weapons are smuggled into Iraq. In a region with porous borders and rife with corruption this does not make it a state policy. Iraqis do not need arms, the country is awash in them, and they need little help in being violent, as we have seen.
Most of those who fight the Americans in Iraq do so not at the bidding of a foreign power but out of genuine and sincere opposition to the American occupation. The Americans never grasped this and always assumed it was about the money, or al Qaeda, and now part of a silly Iranian conspiracy. After at first siding with Iraq’s Shiites much to the consternation of America’s so called “moderate” Sunni allies, the Americans are now targeting Shiites and perhaps even Shiite Iran as Bush prepares for once last war on his path to the “New Middle East.” But without the help of an acquiescent media supplicating to Bush administration and US military officials they might not be able to go to war once again.
Secretary of State Rice’s claim that the US seeks to protect Iraq, a country it has destroyed and whose civilians it continues to kill in Sadr City and elsewhere is laughable, but more dangerously, Rice added fuel to the already combustible sectarian divide in the region, informing Iraq’s neighbors that “what they need to do is confirm and work for Iraq’s Arab identity.”
In a Sunni dominated Arab region that already views Arab Shiites as inferior and often as fifth columnists for Persian Iran, Rice is promoting racist notions that have increased since the American invasion of Iraq. “Arab” is often construed to mean “Sunni” in the region and hence a Shiite dominated Iraq is perceived to be less Arab and more Persian. Throughout the Sunni Arab world dictators, clerics and others warn of “Persian” or “Safavid” plots and conspiracies to take over the region fearing that Hizballah is an Iranian tool, or that the Sadrists are, and dismissing the Shiite government of Iraq as an “Iranian occupation.” Paranoid rumors spread throughout the Arab world of Sunnis converting to Shiism, feeding a fear of Shiite expansionism.
After initially backing Iraq’s Shiites at the expense of alienating their reliable Sunni dictator buddies in the region (also known as “the moderates”), the Americans are now attempting to court them by promoting anti-Shiite sectarianism. That was Zarqawi’s tactic too. It is also ironic because the US originally supported Kurdish efforts to de-Arabize Iraq’s identity. Vice President Cheney has also tried to persuade Gulf Arab countries to get on board the US war with Iran, though with limited success until now, because they know they can only lose from such a confrontation.
Rice also blamed Iran for the fighting in Basra. Secretary of Defense Gates warned that Iran is “is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons,” and that “the military option must be kept on the table, given the destabilizing policies of the regime and the risks inherent in a future Iranian nuclear threat.” He did not say what those risks were. Certainly they are less frightening than Sunni Pakistan possessing nuclear weapons, or the aggressive Israeli state possessing nuclear weapons, since it is Israel that invades or bombs Arab states every so often. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen also discussed “potential military courses of action” to deal with Iran’s “increasingly lethal and malign influence” in Iraq.
I believe that in fact Iran is a positive influence in Iraq, that it has a close relationship with the Kurds and the Shiites and that the Iranian regime, unlike its Sunni neighbors, is not sectarian and is very pragmatic. If Iraq’s Sunnis dislike Iran it is because Saddam Hussein initiated a war of aggression against Iran and succeeded in demonizing Shiites. Admiral Mullen was wrong when he said that Iran prefers “see a weak Iraq neighbor.” Iran and the former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al Jaafari even discussed Iran training Iraq’s security forces. Iran has close relations with Sunni Islamist Hamas and its foreign policy is not a Shiite one at all. Iran does not seek to conquer or control its Arab neighbors but it also chooses not to be an American puppet or client regime, and that has always been the sin the American empire will never pardon.
Another non expert on the Middle East who sees fit to regularly comment on it is the Brookings Institution’s Michael O’Hanlon, recently turned cheerleader for the American “surge.” He agreed with General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker that “Iran is a regime with the blood of hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraqis on its hands.” If he is referring to the American soldiers who died while occupying Iraq then perhaps he should blame the generals and politicians who sent them there rather than the Iraqis who are fighting to liberate their country or those who allegedly helped those Iraqis. O’Hanlon says that dialogue with Iran is naïve because Iran is “ambitious, assertive and ruthless” and is “seeking to establish itself as the region’s hegemon, weaken the U.S. role throughout the broader Middle East and drive a stake through the heart of the Mideast peace process.”
It is not odd for the imperial power that props unpopular and anti democratic dictators in the region while opposing genuinely popular movements and fomenting conflicts in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and elsewhere to worry about somebody else moving in on its turf, but it is silly that O’Hanlon thinks the Bush administration is genuinely committed to a Mideast peace process.
Any actual expert on the region, or any sincere person with even passing familiarity with it would know that genuine peace has always been easy to achieve, it requires Israel to abandon all its settlements and occupied territories, allow for the return of the refugees and compensate them for their dispossession. It also means granting equal rights to the Palestinian citizens of Israel. The so called “peace process,” nothing of the sort, is merely a way to enshrine the dispossession of the Palestinians using unpopular but pliant and hand chosen collaborators like Mahmud Abbas.
Real peace requires dealing with Hamas, Hizballah and Syria. It requires a recognition that there is a hegemonic Zionist aggressor here, with Arab victims, not two equal sides. There can never be a Mideast peace process when the American secretary of state declares, as Rice did on April 29 that “I still remember my first time visiting Israel: It felt like coming home to a place that I had never been. And every time I return, as I look upon the land where Israelis have made the desert literally bloom, and as I drive past the aging hulks of Israeli tanks, which recall the dear cost that generations of Israeli patriots have paid for their nation’s survival, as I see all of these things, it is clear to me that a confident Israel can achieve things that many think impossible.” Can we imagine an American secretary of state paying tribute to the dear cost generations of Palestinian patriots paid for their nation’s survival while attempting to reclaim the homeland from which they were ethnically cleansed?
Anyway, O’Hanlon in the end calls for talks with Iran, not because they will produce any breakthroughs, he says, but because they are a prelude to violence. Talks will get more countries to support the new American war. “By trying to talk,” he writes, “we better position ourselves to get tough and have others join the effort.” Remarkably, he hopes the talks would fail. “Only by patiently trying to work with Iran, and consistently failing to make progress, will we gradually convince Bush-haters and U.S. doubters around the world that the real problem does not lie in Washington.”
Knowing that the propaganda war leading to the invasion of Iraq failed, O’Hanlon wants this war to be more efficient. He wants the US to work harder “to prove we are the reasonable ones” but he also wants Senator Barak Obama to use more “tough talk.” O’Hanlon calls for talks to help shed the image of “Texas cowboy foreign policymaking” but in the end it is only to further the same cowboy foreign policy, just maybe with a few more Tontos at the side of the Lone Ranger. Beware, the worst is yet to come.
– Nir Rosen

Comments

67 comments on “Selling the War with Iran

  1. Adamgilly says:

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  2. Rowan Berkeley says:

    I love this, from the Geagea-ites:
    What the experts say
    NOW Lebanon, May 14, 2008
    http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=42874
    Experts, activists and journalists blasted Hezbollah’s violence in Lebanon and said the Lebanese government and the world should take tougher stances in confronting the group, during a panel at the Hudson Institute on Tuesday. The event saw the participation of Firas Maksad, executive director of the Lebanon Renaissance Foundation; Hussain Abdul-Hussain, Washington correspondent of Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai; Tony Badran, fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies; Hassan Mneimneh, fellow at the Iraq Foundation; and David Wurmser, former senior Middle East advisor at the Office of the Vice President. The panel was moderated by Meyrav Wurmser of the Hudson Institute. Lebanese Ambassador to the US, Antoine Shadid, was scheduled to participate in the event but later declined. He sent a note saying he would not join, and insisted his announcement be read before the audience…

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  3. Samantha says:

    Glenn Greenwald writes “For real journalism on Iraq, watch this interview (in two 10-minute clips) of Rosen by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now from last month, after Rosen returned from his latest trip to Iraq (where he does not rely on the U.S. military to select his itinerary and herd him around)”
    Greenwald’s claim that Nir Rosen does not rely on the US military to herd him around implies two possibilities:
    1) That the surge has been a huge success – so much so that all of Iraq is safe enough that Nir can wander about unprotected by the US military
    OR
    2) That while not protected or “herded” about by the US Military, Nir instead receives protection from insurgents, terrorists & thugs in Iraq who have kidnapped and killed unprotected Iraqi and foreign reporters.
    The former is not likely…except in Kurdish Iraq.

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  4. Samantha says:

    “As always, little interest was shown in the Iraqi people, and the fact that they were enduring a brutal foreign military occupation.”
    I can’t believe Nir has the audacity to make this claim about the situation in Iraq today, and claim to be ‘knowledgeable” about Iraq because he’s lived there since the invasion. Are you kidding me?? BRUTAL FOREIGN MILITAEY OCCUPATION??
    We know whose payroll your on Nir.
    What the blazes do you think Iraq was like under Saddam? He murdered and tortured his citizens at will- he and his sons raped women at will and fed them to lions – his acts of genocide towards the Kurds are well documented. Without reason or provocation he invaded Kuwait and left a wake of mass destruction and death.
    Newsflash Nir – little interest was shown to the Iraqi people BY SADDAM!!
    Every ARAB nation has stated openly that Saddam was a threat to them.
    In Feb 2000 – The Boston Globe editors wrote the following:( THE BOSTON GLOBE leans left, and represents the voices of DEMOCRATS)
    “Iraq’s Growing Threat
    Saddam Hussein’s continuing defiance of United Nations resolutions mandating inspection and dismantling of his weapons of mass destruction represents the most flagrant and protracted failure of President Clinton’s foreign policy.
    This was illuminated Thursday when Baghdad refused to accept even a diluted UN inspection commission 14 months after Saddam kicked out the original UNSCOM team under the conscientious Australian diplomat Richard Butler.
    Since then Saddam has rebuilt facilities for his biological and chemical weapons programs as well as missile sites. Specialists suspect he has renewed production of anthrax, botulinum toxin and aflatoxin, and the organism that produces plague. Weapons inspectors and intelligence officials also have reason to fear that Iraq is working on even more sophisticated programs to develop viral agents for use as biological weapons.
    In seven years, Clinton has tried to ignore, obscure, and misrepresent the threat from Saddam. Clinton’s so-called containment policy has done nothing more than deter Saddam from invading his neighbors again.
    But that policy has not obliged the Iraqi despot to honor the UN’s disarmament resolutions,has not protected the Iraqi people from the dictator’s killers and tortures, and has not defended Americans against terrorists who may be acting with the veiled and deniable support of a vengeful Saddam.
    While Clinton clings to his futile containment policy, seeking to avoid difficult decisions between now and the first Tuesday in November, the threat grows. Saddam’s regime enriches itself with smuggling operations and by diverting money from the $10 billion in yearly oil sales allowed under the UN’s oil-for-food program. And the common people of Iraq continue to suffer unspeakably from both sanctions and the dictatorship.
    Saddam must be forced to permit weapons inspections or be removed from power. The failure to contain him should be a central issue in the current presidential campaign”
    ….”OR BE REMOVED FROM POWER”. Careful what you Dems wish for!! YOU GOT IT. He was removed from power!!
    Nir hasn’t just Gone Native– he’s become a freaking mouth piece for every terrorist organization and enemies of free citizens everywhere.
    If Nir was honest, he’d admit that the Iraqi’s by day allege they want America to withdraw, while by night the run to the US Embassy begging Americans to stay.
    Typical of most Arab hypocrisy. It’s about time the Iraqi’s admitted in the light of day that they welcome an American presence until they themselves can secure their country – that they aim to be in that position within 2 yrs and they want a small force to remain in Iraq for 10 yrs after that to help deter Iran, Al Queda and the power hungry thugs comprised of both Sunnis & Shias from within Iraq & from Syria & Iran.
    That’s the truth that Nir refused to admit!!
    To Don Bacon: who wrote about Michael Yon’s book”Moment of Truth in Iraq” as being touted by hawks–that’s a fallacy – those on the LEFT and the Right embrace Yon’s book and his website – your false statement speaks to your bias!
    As for providing big picture context – he most certainly does – you either didn’t read the book, have not read his dispatches over the past 3.5 years, or you only understand what you choose to understand, and fail to comprehend the rest.
    I’m a card carry Democrat, a real Democrate – not the sad, terrorist loving, jihad supporting wingnuts who have hijacked the party once again – like they tried to do in 1968. I raised money for Dems in the 90′s. My parents were born in Egypt, I speak Arabic, English, French, and have travelled extensively throughout the ME since 1978 on my own, listening to the average arab on the street discuss their feelings of hatred, jealous, envy, and admiration towards America and Americans.
    I’ve heard them laugh at the fecklessness of Carter, deride the libido of Clinton, scoff at the paper tiger that was the United States under his Presidency and discuss the day Muslims would take down America, and create a caliphate across Europe FIRST and then America.
    I’ve heard Arab Muslims denounce Arab Christians and vice versa; Sunni spew forth hatred for Shia, and Shia spew hatred for Sunni.And both spew hatred towards Wahabism practiced in Saudi Arabia. I’ve heard them admire how lucky Americans are that they can speak freely of their hatred for their own country and not be killed, and
    how nice it is to be able to control your own destiny rather than be slaves to the whims of their leaders.
    Nir Rosen is steeped in his political and religious biases, which he wears on his sleeve. He parrots the “hate America, Blame America, America is evil, Hizbollah & Hamas are legitimate” party line that sadly way too many misguided Democrats also spew forth– no wonder Glenn Greenwald and his ilk, embrace Nir. Too bad Nir is about as objective as Hitler, Saddam, Hamas or Hizbollah.
    If you want an honest big picture understanding of the complex reality that was Iraq under Saddam and that is Iraq since the liberation by US and Coalition Forces — then listen to every one of John Burn’s interviews with Charlie Rose.
    The truth is very different and far more complicated than the simplistic distorted propaganda of Nir Rosen.

    Reply

  5. David says:

    Pearl Harbor was somewhat of a “strategic pinprick” as well, so should we have not gone to war then?
    Pearl Harbor was an attempt to destroy our Pacific fleet. 9/11 was horrifying, but it was a pinprick which Osama bin Laden somehow thought would bring down the West’s business leviathan. It did bring down America’s Constitution, and it did reduce far too many Americans to the fetal position, but it was a lucky shot, as even bin Laden recognized. And the various terrorist attacks against US interests are quite minimal. We just believe in our exceptionalism, our insulation from the rest of the world’s terrors, and our right to be anywhere and everywhere we define as “in our national interests,” including in the biggest embassy in the world in the US-imposed Green Zone in Baghdad. We also believe it is ok to harbor a terrorist because it was a Cuban airline with 273 civilians aboard that he and his cohorts blew out of the sky. And we believe that we can bomb anyone we want, anywhere we want, anytime we want, and that we have the right to overthrow the democratically elected government of Venezuela (fortunately we got that one shoved up our rear ends – Chavez and Venezuela’s oil are first Venezuela’s prerogative, and the world’s markets as fair game for Venezuela as for the United States).
    Try taking into account full contexts, larger realities, and a clear-eyed view of all the world’s governments and business interests.

    Reply

  6. arthurdecco says:

    DHobgood said: “Iran has no interest in attacking the US? How do you derive this prophetic knowledge? Considering that this is a regime which has called us the Great Satan for the past 29 years, coupled with the fact that it sent boy-soldiers running through minefields to clear the way for tanks in the Iran-Iraq war, I for one do not trust their intentions or your assessment of their “interests.””
    Iran has no interest in attacking the US. Only an idiot or a liar could think so.
    Iran has described America as the Great Satan because that’s what America is to them. Stand back and take a good, hard look at what the United States of America has become in the world – especially in Iran’s corner of the world. It ain’t pretty. To my Canadian eyes, the Iranian theocracy’s opinion isn’t far off the mark.
    And explain to me how sending “boy-soldiers” running through mine-fields to clear the way for tanks is any more reprehensible than Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld and the rest of the sociopathic sacks of shit that lied America into an illegal and immoral war – a war that has so far cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of INNOCENT Iraqi civilians in a campaign designed to intentionally destroy the entire infrastructure of their country. (Except for their oil ministry, of course.) And let’s not forget the thousands of American soldiers that are dead, dead, dead, or the permanently maimed and disfigured tens and tens of thousands of their brothers and sisters in arms!
    Yeah, that sounds so much more reasonable and worth supporting.

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  7. Rowan Berkeley says:

    FYI – Lebanese Cabinet Labels Hizbullah Telephone Network Illegal – Naharnet, 6 May (extracts)
    The Lebanese government decided to remove airport security chief Brig. Gen. Wafiq Shqeir over his alleged links to Hizbullah. The cabinet also labeled “illegal and unconstitutional” a private communications network set up by Hizbullah on Lebanese territory. On the Hizbullah telephone network issue, Aridi said the government decided to refer the dossier, which shows Iran’s involvement in the case, to the Arab League and international community. The government also dismissed claims by Hizbullah which said the network was essential for the group’s security. Aridi said the government authorized security forces to pursue the “abnormal” issue and arrest all those involved in setting up the network, labeled a “violation of Lebanese laws.” Regarding Shqeir, An Nahar quoted ministerial sources as saying he would rejoin the army command. The sources said official sides received “direct threats” from forces within the Hizbullah-led opposition warning them against messing with the Hizbullah network or with Shqeir’s post. Druze leader Walid Jumblat has demanded the “sacking” of Shqeir, accusing him of allowing Hizbullah to place cameras in the airport area to “monitor the arrival of Lebanese or foreign leaders, to kidnap or assassinate (people) on the airport road.”
    (Hizbullah has an extensive fixed-line telecommunications network, ranging from south and east Lebanon to Beirut’s southern suburbs – RB)

    Reply

  8. DHobgood says:

    Couldn’t resist. This guy is a joke. “This is slightly hyperbolic since al Qaeda’s only successful attack against the U.S. on September 11 ago was a strategic pinprick, not to mention a lucky shot, and Iran has no global ambitions and no interest in attacking the U.S.”
    Ummm…the embassy bombings? The USS Cole? Did those things not happen?
    Pearl Harbor was somewhat of a “strategic pinprick” as well, so should we have not gone to war then?
    Iran has no interest in attacking the US? How do you derive this prophetic knowledge? Considering that this is a regime which has called us the Great Satan for the past 29 years, coupled with the fact that it sent boy-soldiers running through minefields to clear the way for tanks in the Iran-Iraq war, I for one do not trust their intentions or your assessment of their “interests.”

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  9. DHobgood says:

    Hamas and Hezbollah have popular support and are therefore “legitimate”? So what? The Nazis had popular support. Shouldn’t we judge groups based on their behavior and whether they intentionally target civilians to provoke terror? It might sound harsh to Nir’s delicate liberal ears, but when people support the deliberate murder of American citizens, they become…wait for it…ENEMIES. In his naive vision of the world there is always something that can be done to make everyone happy, and the only reason that people continue to kill each other (as they always have) is that someone (ie. George Bush or Israel) hasn’t taken those obvious actions which will be so great and lead to peace, and which are so clear to him, but which for whatever reason he can’t quite spell out, and can’t quite explain why they would work.
    If you look at his analysis you notice that he does not present alternatives. “As always, little interest was shown in the Iraqi people, and the fact that they were enduring a brutal foreign military occupation.”…so what would happen if we left Nir? The Iraqis would all spontaneously get along, the militias and terrorist groups would not oppress the weak, blow up the innocent, and attempt to establish sharia? It’s all just constant criticism of the US, without consideration of realistic alternatives.

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  10. grouchomarxist says:

    Nice summary of damn near everything that’s wrong in our dealings with the Middle East, Mr. Rosen. You’re on my favorites list.

    Reply

  11. Rowan Berkeley says:

    Regarding this sensible paragraph in Nir’s article, with which I fully concur:
    “Lebanese Hizballah is not part of an Iranian conspiracy, it is a massively popular political party with more legitimacy than most other movements in Lebanon … (one could say that) the sectarian Sunnis and former warlords who control the Lebanese government are paralyzing that state by refusing to allow a more representative and legitimate distribution of power that would include Hizballah and its Christian allies.”
    I wish I could have gotten this across to some of the people I have encountered on certain English-language Syrian-oriented blogs. There are one or two Aounists around, but the general tendency at the moment seems to be to take the ravings of Jumblatt and Geagea at least semi seriously.

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  12. NattyB says:

    What I love about Nir Rosen’s analysis, is that it’s coming from someone who actually lives in the region, speaks Arabic, is not solely reliant on the US authorities for getting his information in the region.
    With the exception of maybe the Christian Science Monitor, it’s very difficult to get information from Iraq that’s not heavily filtered through the lens of the Green Zone.

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  13. polaris12 says:

    What I find objectionable about Mrs. Clinton’s comment is the
    bizarre scenario she paints with regard to Iran. She assumes that
    the Iranians are crazy people, who are not fully aware of Israel’s
    nuclear capabilities and are thus willing to commit suicide. Israel,
    as several posters noted, is the only country in the Middle East that
    has nuclear weapons, with estimates of between 200 and 300
    atom and hydrogen bombs. Israel has plenty of deterrence of its
    own. Why would it need any help from the US? And why would
    Israel wait for the US to make up its mind what to do, if it came
    under attack? This is just political posturing by Mrs. Clinton to
    show she is a more ardent supporter of Israel than Barack Obama.
    As deterrence, her comments are meaningless.

    Reply

  14. Lapointe says:

    “Wigwag” stated that Rosen couldn’t resist mentioning Hillary Clinton’s claim that the United States “could obliterate Iran”, but he does so in a way meant to deceive his readers not enlighten them. No one (not Bush, not McCain, not Clinton, not Obama, not the CIA, not the Mossad and certainly not Mr. Rosen)know what the Iranian nuclear ambitions or capabilities really are.”
    Dear Wigwag, I dont know if you realize that earlier in this statement you claim that you can read Rosen’s mind in regards to the Hillary’s statement and that he is basically up to no good and is deceiving people, yet right after it, you critisise him for his statements on Iranian nuclear ambitions and argue that he could not possibly read their mind or know Iranian intentions.
    So, How is it that you can read other’s mind and yet when they make any statements regarding their opinion, you accuse them of wrong doing. Ironically you did this in the same paragraph.
    What you have to realize is that many people like yourself talk and make analogies. Much of what we do here is opinions. It just happend that Rosen’s opinions are supported by more facts and reason than just about anyone else I have seen.
    Then “Wigwag” stated
    “Mr. Rosen surely knows, Israel’s tactical and strategic nuclear weapons are useless in any potential war against the Palestineans or even Southern Lebanon. Exploding nuclear weapons in those conflicts would be like New York exploding a nuclear weapon in New Jersey. Because of the explosive power of the weapons, the damage to Israel would be virtually as great as the damage to the bombed country. Israel’s nuclear weapons are only useful as a deterrance against attack by countries remote from it. But I guess Mr. Rosen doesn’t think Israel needs that deterrent.
    Dear Wigwag,
    Again why is it that Israel can have nuclear weapons but Iran, or anyone Israel and US dont approve, cannot? The truth of the matter is that Israel developed Nukes for defensive purposes originally, however, recently it has come out openly and claimed that they would be willing to use those tactical nukes “Anything in their arsenal” in going after the burried iranian bunkers. I hate to tell you this but that is offensive not defensive.
    The reason why Israel feels free to become offensive is that Iran does not have nukes. Otherwise they would never dare to rattle the sabers against another nuclear state.
    Israel and the US dont want Iran to have nukes not because they are afraid of Iran, but rather afraid that they will not be able to push Iran around anymore if it has nukes.
    Ironically, on average Iranian people are really Pro-American, they have similar values and beliefs as us. The only real reason that the US is not pursuing peace with Iran is Israel. That is because Iran is the only thing standing in the way of Israel taking the remainder of palestine. Just look at Israel map over the past 50 years. Everyday more settlements and the country is expanding. That is very wrong and scary and the major reason why the muslim world is so sick of us.
    Just go read “Palestine, peace not aparthied” by former president carter, which gives the view very vividly from both sides. Carter is actually very pro-Israeli there and constantly argues from the view point of sustainable jewish state.
    The only government in middle east trying to take over others is Israel and the only reason why we are supporting them is the Pro-Israel (AIPAC)’s ubelievable reach in the beltway. They are the only non-american lobby group that is considered as American and thus has access to the house and the senate without prior approval. They can enter those chambers anytime they wish. This is wrong and very much against America in the long run.
    The other reason why AIPAC has so much power is that on average (per capita) American Jewish population is the most over represented sect in this nation. Just over 2.5% of the population, they have 13% representation in the senate and 7% in the House and that does not say anything about the local government and the posts given by the president. This is also not including the other levers of the power (finanical and media). While most American Jewish people do not agree with AIPAC’s tactics, they dont really have a better choice.
    Ironically the black population in this country is about 15% and they only have 1% representation in the senate and 8.5% in the House.
    What we need in this country is the end to all special interests control over the government. We need to end lobby groups. No more private money in the campigns or the elections.
    A government for the people by the people.

    Reply

  15. Kenn Lichtenwalter says:

    Shit, man! This is great.

    Reply

  16. WigWag says:

    To Jimbank, thank you very much for sharing this link with me. I found the post there very informative and I am also glad to have discovered the site. The article points out that the feeling about putative Iranian nukes in the Arab world is mixed with no particular consensus. That seems logical to me. I’m not sure the article supports your contention that the Arab world generally supports the Iranian position on its nuclear capability, but it doesn’t support my assertion either. As to who is more believable on this, the main stream media or the blog you referred me to, I don’t have a clue. Steve Clemons is an expert in this area and seems to have great contacts in the Saudi community. Perhaps someday he will share some of his insights about this question.
    Anyway, thank you again for educating me about this.

    Reply

  17. judith weingarten says:

    A breath of fresh air, certainly, but I’d still question some of Nir’s conclusions. One remark, though, quite blew away that fresh air:
    “…the Iranian regime, unlike its Sunni neighbors, is not sectarian.”
    Really? That would be news to most Iranians. If the regime isn’t sectarian, what are those men on the council of Guardians supposed to be doing?

    Reply

  18. Jimbank says:

    To Wigwag:
    As much as I am enjoying the discussion here, you are making a statement about Arab views of a potential Iranian nukes which merely mimics the conventional press, and is not grounded in fact. Please follow the follwing:
    http://neinuclearnotes.blogspot.com/2008/04/what-arab-nations-think-about-iran.html
    I believe you will find that Arab world generally supports the Iranian position on its nuclear capability.

    Reply

  19. farooq says:

    lone ranger is here tonto is here but the lone rangers SILVER is slipping away!!!!

    Reply

  20. Strano Straniero says:

    Brilliant! A breath of fresh air amid the daily stench of propaganda from the Post and US Media. Thank you Nir Rosen!

    Reply

  21. Lapointe says:

    Bravo Mr. Rosen. You have to forgive some of the people that come on this site and at first pretend to agree with some of the issues you talk about then sneak in their insults.
    I had never heard of Rosen till I first read this article. Wow, what an eye opener. Right on the money. I have been feeling this way for the longest time and never thought any American outlet would actually allow such an honest writing to come out. Majority of the American media these days is applying propoganda tactics not been seen in the world since the days of the soviet empire. They are all either owned by pro Israel people or are affiliated somehow with them. Its a shame what has happened to the American media.
    Considering what was said earlier. Even though the oil lobby has much power in the beltway, the Israeli lobby (AIPAC) far out guns them. Afterall whether if the US attacks Iraq/Iran or makes peace with them, the Oil companies have middle men (Shadow companies) to access that oil. The main reason why we went to war was two fold. One, It kept the useless bush administration in power and re-elected through fear. Two, the Israeli lobby wanted them to do it. The real shame is why do American officials not seem to care for their own country? Oh yes, the answer is clear. Israel’s interest comes first. The funny thing is that if I had to name one country the greatest American enemy, it would be Israel. I wonder what would happen the day after the US was no longer the number one power in the world. I know, Israel would be immediately trying to go buy news agencies and media outlets there and try to control their flow of information just like they did to ours, and then they would no longer give a damn about us.
    Why are we helping them do to palestinians what the Nazi’s did to them? I bet you those six million victims would be horrified at what is happening. Especially considering the fact that the Israeli government uses those victims as the tool to continue on its murderous path.

    Reply

  22. JamesL says:

    Kudos to Rosen for being perhaps the top field reporter over the course of the Iraq war, and to Steve for welcoming him to this forum.
    Zathras: “But Rosen has gone native….”
    Z, I stopped taking you seriously there. “Gone native”: Label used to discount someone who is much better than average at describing the debilitating effects of US policy on peoples we need to be our friends.

    Reply

  23. Steve says:

    In fairness to Rosen, he did not describe the Mahdi Army as the “most popular and legitimate movement” in Iraq; hes decribed the Sadrist movement, of which the Mahdi Army is a part, this way.
    It is my impression that Sadr consistently polls as one of the most popular figures in Iraq, albeit with opinion strongly divided. Alas, the most recent poll I could find is from 2006:
    http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/sep06/Iraq_Sep06_rpt.pdf
    Here he polls high, but lower than Maliki. I suspect he would outpoll Maliki today.

    Reply

  24. bb says:

    Excellent writing from Nir Rosen, as usual.
    But he describes the Mahdi Army as the “most popular and legitimate movement” in Iraq.
    On what does he base this statement? The Sadrists did not contest either of the general elections in 2005 as a movement, obtaining their seats and ministries as part of a deal with the UIA. They only contested one governorate in the provincial elections (which they won). Why didn’t they contest other southern governates at the time, if they are so popular and so legitimate?
    What they have is a strong “army” which enabled them to rule Sadr City, torture and execute thousands of military aged Sunni males and attempt to impose their version of Sharia law on Basrah. But there is no evidence to back Mr Rosen’s claim that the Sadrists enjoy widespread national popularity. There can’t be until they contest a national election.

    Reply

  25. David says:

    Justified exasperation, Wig Wag, justified exasperation. In this context I think of things like the justified exasperation of MLK, Jr. You seem to want to find equivalency in various exasperations. I was trying to be quite explicit in my choice of words. I think it is extremely important to sort out who is exasperated for sound reasons and who is exasperated because they want their opponents/critics to go away/lose/leave them alone. An example of completely unjustified exasperation would be George W. Bush on most every issue I can think of.
    For the record, I do not support anybody’s violence, terrorism, or general use of death and destruction to further their ends, and on this score I no more support what George W. Bush did in invading Iraq than I support any of the terrorist attacks or counterattacks in the Middle East. Not since the unavoidable necessity to stop the Axis war machine (ultimately a consequence of military imperialism as the ongoing history of the human tribal enterprise, but given a particularly heinous pall by Nazi “preemptive” warfare).
    However, I do understand why the Native Americans resorted to killing the invaders, although at nowhere near the level the conquest justified. Of course, they also indulged in killing each other for tribal reasons. For me, humankind needs to grow up, but the most powerful force for that purpose is led by a juvenile tribalist with a terrible inferiority complex masked by an ersatz Texas swagger. And the most “civilized” country in the Middle East is so hell bent to expand the already very extensive settlements in the Occupied Territories that it cannot but behave in a militaristic tribal manner, behavior the attempts at asymmetric warfare by its opponents only exacerbates.
    We are up against fundamental questions about the essential nature of the future of humankind on this planet, and on every count humankind is at the moment losing, unless tribal self-destruction as a corollary to the attempts to take down The Other counts as some sort of perverse victory.
    Oh, and let me change from justified exasperation to fed up with the crock of shit that passes for mainstream American international journalism. Nir Rosen correctly calls these lazy, egocentric, geopolitically ignorant, myopic chauvinists out.

    Reply

  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “So, Arthur, Am I one of your usual suspects because you think I have reading oomprehension difficulties?”
    Oomprehension??? Lemme guess….
    Hmmmm……
    Geez, I don’t know. Perhaps an unnatural phobia about constipation?
    Oh, no, thats oomphrehension.
    I don’t know, wig-wag. Perhaps a high dosage of oxi-contin will fix it. If not, theres always prozac.

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  27. Chris says:

    Rosen’s comments are most welcome.
    Let’s hear more from this distinctive point of view.

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  28. PissedOffAmerican says:

    What, this wig-wag expects me to rebut his rote written slaver about Israel and Hillary? Gads, as if I haven’t done so ten thousand times here.
    Interesting that someone could write such a longwinded diatribe as wigwag has about nuclear weapons, Israel, and Iran, yet not include one single reference to the IAEA, and its conclusions. Never mind that it was Israel that hid a nuclear weapons program from the world community, and developed said weapons in secret underground bunkers. An action, I might add, that VIRTUALLY GUARANTEED that the middle eastern Arab states would pursue joining the nuclear club.
    Of course, wig-wag, in his strong desire to wedge opinion firmly in Israel’s murderous defense, completely disregards the fact that it is Israel that holds the nuclear hammer in the Middle east, and as its nieghbors possess no such capability, there is no MAD deterence against Israel’s use of such weapons. And yes, Israel HAS threatened to use nuclear weapons, through public insinuation, as has the United States. Any nation observing the United States invasion of Iraq, and Israel’s actions in regards to cluster bombing the Lebanese landscape, would be ill-advised NOT to pursue a deterrent against the military actions of Israel and the United States. It could well be that Iran’s procurement of nuclear weapons technology may be the one factor that actually prevents the middle east from reducing itself to radioactive silica. God knows, Israel has not been shy about the illegal use of cluster munitions, nor does it seem to have much regard for the lives of Lebanese or Palestinian non-combatants. Upon an informed evaluation of Israel’s past history, why should we form the opinion that Israel isn’t a nuclear threat to her neighbors?

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  29. arthurdecco says:

    Name calling? I’m confused. I thought I was describing, not name calling. ;-)

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  30. WigWag says:

    So, Arthur, Am I one of your usual suspects because you think I have reading oomprehension difficulties? Or being ill equipped to rebut the substance of what I say, have you reverted to name calling?

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  31. arthurdecco says:

    Wig Wag said: “So let me get this straight, you’re saying people who have a different opinion than yours are predictable, selectively informed and afraid.”
    Not specifically. Many people I respect don’t share my opinions. I don’t find them predictable or afraid. But perhaps I should have included in my off the cuff assessment of the usual suspects that they appear to suffer from reading comprehension difficulties. Or perhaps they’re drawn to willful misrepresentation as a method of scoring or making points. I’m not sure, Wig Wag.

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  32. WigWag says:

    “Of course my usual suspects have a different opinion than me. That’s why my usual suspects are MY usual suspects – because they’re the antithetic to me – predictable, first glance plausible, selectively informed and every one singly, somehow afraid. In addition, the usual suspects rarely have anything original or insightful to impart, usually preferring some minor thinker’s cliché-ridden talking points to their own life’s lessons. The usual suspects. I’m sure you know who I mean.”
    So let me get this straight, you’re saying people who have a different opinion than yours are predictable, selectively informed and afraid. They rarely have anything to say and they’re cliche ridden. I guess the only person qualified to debate with Arthur Decco is Arthur Decco.

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  33. arthurdecco says:

    Wig Wag said: “ArthurDecco laughs that “he’s (Nir Rosen) sure caught the ire of the usual suspects, hasn’t he? he heh” Who are the usual suspects you’re talking about? Are they people who just happen (God forbid) to have a different opinion than yours?”
    Of course my usual suspects have a different opinion than me. That’s why my usual suspects are MY usual suspects – because they’re the antithetic to me – predictable, first glance plausible, selectively informed and every one singly, somehow afraid. In addition, the usual suspects rarely have anything original or insightful to impart, usually preferring some minor thinker’s cliché-ridden talking points to their own life’s lessons.
    The usual suspects. I’m sure you know who I mean.

    Reply

  34. arthurdecco says:

    I’m not going to waste Mr. Clemons bandwidth describing the horrific crimes perpetrated by the Zionist state of Israel against the actual owners and occupiers of the land they intend to completely steal, Jerry May. We all know Israel’s shameful history. War crime after war crime after war crime. Much more than 60 years worth…
    And I’m not remotely interested in a pissing contest.
    Hezbollah and Hamas are logical reactions to the criminal assaults on their peoples, and as such, they deserve the support of anyone remotely interested in seeing justice served in the region.
    Because if we leave it to right wing Israel and their criminal American sock puppets to solve the problem we can be sure of one thing only:
    Many more innocent people will die.
    And for what, exactly, Jerry May? Or who?
    Most importantly, why?

    Reply

  35. JohnH says:

    So we’re back to the red herring of Iranian nukes. Wigwar says there are only two paths: deterrence and confrontation.
    This would be true if there were a real threat. But the NIE said that the Iranians have no nuclear program. More importantly, the NIE said that the Iranian government is composed of RATIONAL ACTORS. This means that they are not big on self-destruction–they would not commit suicide by using them. The only reason for nukes is to deter hegemons covetous of their energy resources.
    But Iran probably doesn’t even need nukes for deterrence. They only need enough fire power to take out the Persian Gulf oil infrastructure in the event of an attack on them. It crippled Saddam’s oil production in the 1980′s. And it would effectively cripple the industrial world without incurring all the problems inherent in developing and storing nukes.
    It’s time to start talking about real issues vis-a-vis Iran. Enough of propaganda garbage designed to frighten Americans and demonize Iranians.

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  36. Jerry says:

    Arthur Decco, you admit it, “I endorse the policies of Hamas and Hezbollah. There, I’ve come right out and said so.”
    That makes you just as bad (or worse) than the people you criticize. You endorse the murder of children; you endorse blowing up Passover Sedars; you endorse using civilians as human shields.” My guess is that you’re just being hyperbolic; that you don’t really mean it. But if you do, Arthur, I don’t think you’ll go to the devil. I think you are the devil.

    Reply

  37. arthurdecco says:

    “And POA, thanks for the referral to Fox News. I think there’s a bed in a mental hospital waiting for you. No, wait, I take that back. I didn’t mean to demean the mentally ill.” posted by Jerry May
    My goodness, Jerry May! It didn’t take you long to show us all exactly what kind of a person you are.
    Can I safely claim, after reading your last post, that Logic 101 never graced your undergrad class schedules? (though had there been a Dissembling 404 in there somewhere, I’m sure you would have aced it.)
    Tell me – your rage, your resentment, your adolescent spittle – are these things you fight against…or do you just let ‘em splash willy-nilly all over you when you sit hunched and wound-tight nervous at your keyboard, with that stringy, self-indulgent smile on your laptop-lit face?
    btw, Jerry – I endorse the policies of Hamas and Hezbollah. There, I’ve come right out and said so.
    Think I’ll go to the devil?

    Reply

  38. WigWag says:

    David, you say “but I must ask, Wig Wag and Jerry, have you never heard of justified exasperation?” I think there’s always more than enough exasperation to go around. Progressives are exasperated with conservatives, Obama supporters are exasperated with Clinton supporters, republicans are exasperated with democrats and partisans of Israel are exasperated with partisans of the Palestineans and vice versa. I like this blog because (unlike so many other sites) intelligent people with different points of view can debate their opinions. I don’t think exasperation has anything to do with it.
    You also say, “Nir Rosen is by no stretch of the imagination the other side of the very tired, ruthlessly militaristic neocon coin. Challenge anything specific he says that is erroneous, but please leave off with the vague attacks on his perspective or his ability as a journalist.” David, you’re putting words in my mouth. I didn’t attack him as a journalist and I think my comments were very substantive. You may disagree with them, but I don’t see how you can say they were a personal attack on Nir Rosen.
    Steve asks “Is it possible that more deterrence is needed?” When it comes to weapons as destructive as nuclear weapons more deterrence is always needed. During the cold war the US (and Nato) deterred the Soviets (and the Warsaw Pact) and they deterred us. That was a good thing; the more deterrence the better.
    Don S. says “so, the concensus seems to be that a years off theoretical Iranian nuclear capability of some sort is somehow more saliant than a currently existing Israeli nuclear arsenal.” That’s right Don S. you have it exactly right. But don’t take my word for it, ask the entire Arab world whether they are more afraid of current Israeli nukes or potential Iranian nukes. There will be a near consensus that putative Iranian nukes are a much greater threat. Maybe Steve Clemons might ask his friends, the Saudis, whom they feel more threatened by. In his post, Mr. Rosen was happy to tar the whole Sunni world as virulently anti Shiite, but he didn’t think it was necessary to mention the fact that the acrimony flows in both directions.
    ArthurDecco laughs that “he’s (Nir Rosen) sure caught the ire of the usual suspects, hasn’t he? he heh” Who are the usual suspects you’re talking about? Are they people who just happen (God forbid) to have a different opinion than yours?
    PissedoffAmerican complains that “But then, we have Jerry, who briefly and pompously says nothing, and fails to rebut one single sentence of Rosen’s essay.” We could just as easily say “But then we have POA who briefly and pompously says nothing and fails to rebut even a single sentence in Wig Wags post.” Which would be fine (I know I’m no Nir Rosen)except that POA specifically criticizes my comment but doesn’t seem to have the desire (or capability?) to rebut it substantively.
    By the way, while I don’t agree with Nir Rosen in this post or in much of what he writes, as a reader of the washingtonnote, I’m glad he’s here. He’s smart, he’s provocative and he’s challenging. Everything I’m looking for when I sign in.

    Reply

  39. Jerry says:

    The comment posted by JohnH above couldn’t be more ridiculous. It is true that opinion polls show that Americans now oppose the war in Iraq but those same polls showed the American public supported the war when it was launched. And they elected the President who launched the war a second time (assuming you think he was actually elected the first time). Some Israeli polls show that a majority of the Israeli public favors negotiating with Hamas but the only political parties in Israel that espouse this position (Maeretz, the communist party and the Arab parties) routinely garner few if any seats in the Knesset. In light of this, I wonder what evidence JohnH has to back up his claim that the Israeli and American governments “do not actually represent the vast majority of their people when it comes to pursing these occupations.” I think that the American govenment, the Israeli government, Hamas (which was democratically elected) and Hizbollah (which was also democratically elected to the Lebanese parliment)all represent the majority of people in their respective constituencies. I don’t think that excuses bad behavior on the part of any of these governments/parties. I’m not sure, but it sounds to me that JohnH actually endorses the activities of Hamas and Hezbollah. If he does, he should just come out and say so.
    As for chutzpah, JohnH should look in the mirror.
    And POA, thanks for the referral to Fox News. I think there’s a bed in a mental hospital waiting for you. No, wait, I take that back. I didn’t mean to demean the mentally ill.

    Reply

  40. PissedOffAmerican says:

    WigWag, attempting to rebut Rosen’s commentary with a disguised version of the horseshit the neo-monsters are feeding us about Iran’s nuclear capabilities and aspirations, has opened the window to a fair judgement of what wig-wag is all about. Launching into his defense of all things Hillary and Israel, wig-wag’s commentary might as well have been typed on MP’s, Tahoe Editor’s, or that jackass of old, Alex’s. (Who knows, perhaps it was.)
    But then, we have Jerry, who briefly and pompously says nothing, and fails to rebut one single sentence of Rosen’s essay. Good job, Jerry. Give Fox News a call, they probably have a job for you.

    Reply

  41. DonS says:

    I guess we’d have to say that the usual suspects bring an Anglo-centric, U.S.-centric point of view to the table.
    And here I’d thought we were exploring an objective ideation.
    I suppose there is a legitimate caveat between what’s good for a short term US-centric tactic and what’s good for the world.

    Reply

  42. arthurdecco says:

    I’m in the camp that thinks Nir Rosen smart and informed. And not afraid to write what he thinks.
    Someone here, (not a fan), complained earlier that Mr. Rosen doesn’t explain things anymore… I’d like to ask him/her how many times must anyone “explain” the same obvious, widely-reported facts before they run the risk of either boring their readers, or perhaps insulting their intelligence with endless, unnecessary repetition?
    I’m all for getting to the entree. I’m willing to forgo the same ol’ salad. I already know what salad tastes like.
    Nir Rosen readers are expected to be well-informed and open to reasonable debate from all sides of the issues. They aren’t the type who need their talking points pumped in like oxygenated air to keep them awake and on topic.
    (I laugh… he’s sure caught the ire of the usual suspects, hasn’t he? he heh)
    Thank you for bringing Nir Rosen to the Washington Note, Mr. Clemons.

    Reply

  43. DonS says:

    So, the concensus seems to be that a years off theoretical Iranian nuclear capability of some sort is somehow more saliant than a currently existing Israeli nuclear arsenal.
    Certainly the stuff on which to hang the hat of endless war and 100 year occupations.

    Reply

  44. David says:

    texas dem,
    I think you added something worthwhile to the discussion. That is the contemporary conundrum, one that has perhaps become intractable, and will only end when the members of one side are mostly dead or totally debilitated, just as was the case for the Native Americans, token populations of which still exist, some of which are now making much money off of casinos (but as far as I know doing nothing to help out their less fortunate Native American brothers and sisters).
    The one-state solution is a demographic disaster for the Jewish State of Israel, and a two-state solution requires Israel to give up the settlements in the Occupied Territories, so Israel has no more interest in peace with the Palestinians than did our European ancestors with the Native Americans. A two-state solution does give Israel an internationally recognized state-to-state metric for war against Palestine. The idea of Palestine as a nation engaging in a war against Israel is laughable. Jimmy Carter has looked this horror directly in the eyes, without blinders, and has been soundly rebuffed in the media for his efforts.
    All I can say is I fully expect Bush/Cheney, with the blessings of the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the talking bobbleheads on most of the mainstream tv news programs, to totally eff up the Middle East, and it is critical, of course, that they pull the trigger before November.
    Pardon me, but I happen to think Nir Rosen was somewhat restrained considering the realities, the US role, and the reprehensible behavior of the msm regarding the Middle East.
    God is trying through the agency of Jimmy Carter, if there is a god who cares.

    Reply

  45. Steve says:

    Well, while much of your piece is on the mark, Mr. Rosen, count me as one more frightened of the prospect of an Iranian nuclear arsenal than an Israeli one.
    At the same time, contra WigWag, I certainly don’t welcome Sen. Clinton’s “obliteration” remarks. Is it possible that more deterrence is needed? that in the present climate the Iranians don’t imagine that the US would take advantage of any provocation to attack? I think not. Clinton was simply brandishing her national security bona fides, without regard to the deleterious effect of this needless escalation in rhetoric.

    Reply

  46. texas dem says:

    I’m glad to see Nir Rosen here. I’ve liked reading him before, I’m actually kind of surprised to see him invited onto this page, and I’ll be interested to read what he has to say.
    While I’m inclined towards a similar viewpoint as his, I have to say I’m disappointed by Rosen’s blithe dismissal of the possibility of an Iranian nuclear program: “Iran’s religious and political leaders have forsworn nuclear weapons, its supreme religious ruler has repudiated them. We cannot at once condemn Iran for being a theocracy and then disregard the rulings of its theocrats.” The idea that we should simply take the leaders of a country — any country, including ours — at their public word is ridiculous. Rosen seems categorically unconcerned by the possibility of Iranian nukes. That’s an oversight that weakens his overall judgment. (Granted, Iranian nukes are about seventh on the list of important regional disturbing forces, but they are still on the list.)
    And secondly, his proposed “peace agreement” is the liquidation of the Jewish state, and the formation of a one-state Palestine with a Jewish minority. That’s a valid opinion, but introducing it by saying “peace is easy! one side just has to give up everything it wants!” is insulting.
    Oddly enough, the much more objectionable comment by Zathras is nonetheless right in that Nir Rosen has “gone native.” I would have too in his shoes; siding with the oppressed over the oppressor is my inclination as well. But even the oppressive badguys do have legitimate interests. Israel may have been the bad guy for the last 41 years; may have been the bad guy for the last 60 or 80, depending on your point of view. But they are nonetheless humans with legitimate rights to life and liberty, and any kind of proposed solution, especially one that purports to call itself “peace”, must honor that somehow. Asking Jewish Israel to volunteer to become Sunni West Baghdad elevates historical (and present) wrong and redress over the actual needs of all living humans. Asking Tel Aviv to volunteer itself to become West Baghdad or Beirut is not serious. I don’t know what would be; you can’t very well ask Jewish Israel to move back to Poland either. But I’m hard-pressed to see how a one-state solution is really an effort at peace.
    Anyway, that’s a bit off-track, I wasn’t really trying for that argument. I mostly wanted to say that I like Nir Rosen an awful lot, and I’m excited to read him here in the future, but on these two points, and especially in his presentation of them, I don’t think he was being as serious as the subjects deserve. Especially on the Iranian nuclear thing, saying “well the ayatollah said so so we should just trust him” is a waste of everyone’s time. I don’t necessarily mind his conclusions, but his presentation of them and argumentation for them was sometimes glib, and I don’t care for that.
    Good to see ya Mr Rosen, look forward to the future.
    (I think the captcha is not working, apologies if this shows up multiple times…)

    Reply

  47. David says:

    And I think Nir Rosen made a valuable contribution to The Washington Note, and I thank Steve Clemons for being willing to include this take on the Middle East for our consideration. Each of us is free to see whatever we will, but I must ask, Wig Wag and Jerry, have you never heard of justified exasperation?
    We are the invaders, we are the occupiers, and we are there for only two reasons: oil and our special relationship with a country created in 1948 at the expense of the people occupying that bit of geography when that decision was made.
    Nir Rosen is by no stretch of the imagination the other side of the very tired, ruthlessly militaristic neocon coin. Challenge anything specific he says that is erroneous, but please leave off with the vague attacks on his perspective or his ability as a journalist. The man has called a spade a spade, uncomfortably so for anyone not willing to face the realities in the Middle East in all their horridness, or an American media apparently incapable of doing anything by cheerleading for war and villification of The Other. I imagine this is what it was like in the Euro-American media when our ancestors were systematically taking the New World from the fools who had no better sense than to be here when our ancestors came to claim it (I am utterly Euro-American, overwhelmingly English, with one Cherokee and one Jewish ancestor of whom I am aware, so that’s why I say our ancestors).

    Reply

  48. Jerry says:

    At one time Nir Rosen was a great journalist, in the tradition of John Reed. This post makes him sound like a typical hack, like Matthews, Scarborough, Kristoff or Dowd. He’s certainly more informed than they are, but like them, he’s more interested in enlightening us with his opinions than with the facts. At one time you could count on Rosen to present you with information it was hard to get elsewhere. Now he sounds just like the neoconservatives he loves to hate. He’s not interested in nuance; he can’t be bothered by shades of gray. Everything’s black and white; the world is filled with good guys and bad guys, and he’s uniquely qualified to tell one from the other. Doesn’t he see that he and the neocoservatives are two sides of the same tired coin?
    I agree with WigWag, for his first post on this site, this isn’t a very promising beginning.

    Reply

  49. JohnH says:

    Too bad WigWag cannot see that Hamas,Hizbollah, and Iran are not the ones occupying foreign lands. Really, it’s not America or Israel’s fault that they have been forced into these occupations. It’s the fault of the Iraqis and the Palesinians, who–if they had any common sense at all–would welcome foreign oppression. Balderdash!
    Nor does he note that the “representative” governments of the US and Israel do not actually represent the vast majority of their people when it comes to pursing these occupations. Hamas and Hizbollah are legitimate and receive broad support precisely because they resist occupation.
    And he has the chutzpah to accuse Rosen of being the one engaging in polemics!

    Reply

  50. WigWag says:

    I apologize for the multiple posts but the captcha problem on this site needs to be fixed.

    Reply

  51. WigWag says:

    Mr. Rosen is smart and well informed, so it’s too bad that he’s more interested in polemics than serious analysis. As his first post on the Washington Note, this is a very inauspicious start. Really, his post is more of a rant than anything else.
    Mr. Rosen is certainly right when he says “there is no proxy war in Iraq, because the US and Iran share the same proxy and the US installed that proxy and empowered it.” Peter Galbraith and others have been pointing this out for at least three years now. And he may be right that Hamas and Hizballah are popular indigenous movements that truly represent large segments of the population in Palestine and Lebanon. So what? He doesn’t excuse US or Israeli behavior based on the fact that these governments are representative, so why is he so willing to excuse the behavior of Hamas and Hizballah? The representative nature of Israeli and American societies don’t excuse what Mr. Rosen considers to be state terrorism by those nations, but he is perfectly ready to excuse the behavior of Hamas and Hizballah because they are what he calls “popular” and “legitimate” movements. Or maybe Rosen doesn’t object to their behavior, because he supports it. Only he can tell us.
    Mr. Rosen couldn’t resist mentioning Hillary Clinton’s claim that the United States “could obliterate Iran”, but he does so in a way meant to deceive his readers not enlighten them. No one (not Bush, not McCain, not Clinton, not Obama, not the CIA, not the Mossad and certainly not Mr. Rosen)know what the Iranian nuclear ambitions or capabilities really are. There are only two realistic ways of dealing with those ambitions (whatever they may be). The Bush/McCain approach appears to be violent confrontation. The approach suggested by Mrs. Clinton’s remarks represent deterrance. She said if Iran attacked Israel, the United States “could obliterate Iran.” Those who oppose armed confrontation with Iran should welcome those remarks because deterrance is obviously better than armed confrontation. Mrs. Clinton’s remarks were smart and her policy has the potential to save thousands or tens of thousands of lives by avoiding a war with Iran that shouldn’t happen. Or perhaps Mr. Rosen feels that Iran doesn’t need to be deterred. That remarks made by the Iranian President and the Iranian Supreme Leader about the annhilation of Israel should be ignored. One can only speculate how he would respond if the same comments made by thhe Iranian President about Israel had been made by the Israeli Prime Minister about the Palestineans.
    Mr. Rosen wonders “with an aggressive nuclear Israel and U.S regularly rattling their sabers who could blame Iran even if it did seek the security nuclear weapons seem to provide?” I am curious as to what evidence Mr. Rosen has that Israel has rattled their nuclear sword against the Iranians. Israel is frequently criticized for possessing a nuclear arsenal, but as Mr. Rosen surely knows, Israel’s tactical and strategic nuclear weapons are useless in any potential war against the Palestineans or even Southern Lebanon. Exploding nuclear weapons in those conflicts would be like New York exploding a nuclear weapon in New Jersey. Because of the explosive power of the weapons, the damage to Israel would be virtually as great as the damage to the bombed country. Israel’s nuclear weapons are only useful as a deterrance against attack by countries remote from it. But I guess Mr. Rosen doesn’t think Israel needs that deterrent. He blythely criticizes the Sunni Arab world as profoundly bigoted against Shiites but I guess he doesn’t think the Arab world is equally bigoted against Jews. Despite being so well versed in Middle Eastern affairs, I guess he doesn’t have time to read the Arab press and thus doesn’t know how Israelis and Jews are routinely portrayed in Arab society. A fair minded person would conclude that Israel needs it’s nuclear deterrent and needs it badly. But Mr. Rosen isn’t fair minded.
    He wants us to believe that all the problems in the Middle East are the fault of the United States, or the Israelis, or the Sunnis or leaders like King Abdullah, II or President Abbas. The Iranians are just innocent victims. The only people who might need nuclear weapons are them. It might help Mr. Rosen’s analysis of the situation in the Middle East if he boned up on his Shakespeare; you know the part where
    Cassius says “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
    By the way, I liked the smart post by Zathras (above) but I disagree with him about one thing. I vote for more long, detailed posts like the one from Mr. Rosen. It’s not the length that’s the problem, it’s the muddled thinking.

    Reply

  52. WigWag says:

    Mr. Rosen is smart and well informed, so it’s too bad that he’s more interested in polemics than serious analysis. As his first post on the Washington Note, this is a very inauspicious start. Really, his post is more of a rant than anything else.
    Mr. Rosen is certainly right when he says “there is no proxy war in Iraq, because the US and Iran share the same proxy and the US installed that proxy and empowered it.” Peter Galbraith and others have been pointing this out for at least three years now. And he may be right that Hamas and Hizballah are popular indigenous movements that truly represent large segments of the population in Palestine and Lebanon. So what? He doesn’t excuse US or Israeli behavior based on the fact that these governments are representative, so why is he so willing to excuse the behavior of Hamas and Hizballah? The representative nature of Israeli and American societies don’t excuse what Mr. Rosen considers to be state terrorism by those nations but he is perfectly ready to excuse the behavior of Hamas and Hizballah because they are what he calls “popular” and “legitimate” movements. Or maybe Rosen doesn’t object to their behavior, because he supports it. Only he can tell us.
    Mr. Rosen couldn’t resist mentioning Hillary Clinton’s claim that the United States “could obliterate Iran”, but he does so in a way meant to deceive his readers not enlighten them. No one (not Bush, not McCain, not Clinton, not Obama, not the CIA, not the Mossad and certainly not Rosen)know what the Iranian nuclear ambitions or capabilities really are. There are only two realistic ways of dealing with those ambitions (whatever they may be). The Bush/McCain approach appears to be violent confrontation. The approach suggested by Mrs. Clinton’s remarks represent deterrance. She said if Iran attacked Israel, the United States “could obliterate Iran.” Those who oppose armed confrontation with Iran should welcome those remarks because deterrance is obviously better than armed confrontation. Mrs. Clinton’s remarks were smart and her policy has the potential to save thousands or tens of thousands of lives by avoiding a war with Iran that shouldn’t happen. Or perhaps Mr. Rosen feels that Iran doesn’t need to be deterred. That remarks made by the Iranian President and the Iranian Supreme Leader about the annhilation of Israel should be ignored. One can only speculate how he would respond if the same comments made by thhe Iranian President about Israel had been made by the Israeli Prime Minister about the Palestineans.
    Mr. Rosen wonders “with an aggressive nuclear Israel and U.S regularly rattling their sabers who could blame Iran even if it did seek the security nuclear weapons seem to provide?” I am curious as to what evidence Mr. Rosen has that Israel has rattled their nuclear sword against the Iranians. Israel is frequently criticized for possessing a nuclear arsenal, but as Mr. Rosen surely knows, Israel’s tactical and strategic nuclear weapons are useless in any potential war against the Palestineans or even Southern Lebanon. Exploding nuclear weapons in those conflicts would be like New York exploding a nuclear weapon in New Jersey. Because of the explosive power of the weapons, the damage to Israel would be virtually as great as the damage to the bombed country. Israel’s nuclear weapons are only useful as a deterrance against attack by countries remote from it. But I guess Mr. Rosen doesn’t think Israel needs that deterrent. He blythely criticizes the Sunni Arab world as profoundly bigoted against Shiites but I guess he doesn’t think the Arab world is equally bigoted against Jews. Despite being so well versed in Middle Eastern affairs, I guess he doesn’t have time to read the Arab press and thus doesn’t know how Israelis and Jews are routinely portrayed in Arab society. A fair minded person would conclude that Israel needs it’s nuclear deterrent and needs it badly. But Mr. Rosen isn’t fair minded.
    He wants us to believe that all the problems in the Middle East are the fault of the United States, or the Israelis, or the Sunnis or leaders like King Abdullah, II or President Abbas. The Iranians are just innocent victims. The only people who might need nuclear weapons are them. It might help Mr. Rosen’s analysis of the situation in the Middle East if he boned up on his Shakespeare; you know the part where
    Cassius says “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
    By the way, I liked the smart post by Zathras (above) but I disagree with him about one thing. I vote for more long, detailed posts like the one from Mr. Rosen. It’s not the length that’s the problem, it’s the muddled thinking.

    Reply

  53. WigWag says:

    Mr. Rosen is smart and well informed, so it’s too bad that he’s more interested in polemics than serious analysis. As his first post on the Washington Note, this is a very inauspicious start. Really, his post is more of a rant than anything else.
    Mr. Rosen is certainly right when he says “there is no proxy war in Iraq, because the US and Iran share the same proxy and the US installed that proxy and empowered it.” Peter Galbraith and others have been pointing this out for at least three years now. And he may be right that Hamas and Hizballah are popular indigenous movements that truly represent large segments of the population in Palestine and Lebanon. So what? He doesn’t excuse US or Israeli behavior based on the fact that these governments are representative, so why is he so willing to excuse the behavior of Hamas and Hizballah? The representative nature of Israeli and American societies don’t excuse what Mr. Rosen considers to be state terrorism by those nations but he is perfectly ready to excuse the behavior of Hamas and Hizballah because they are what he calls “popular” and “legitimate” movements. Or maybe Rosen doesn’t object to their behavior, because he supports it. Only he can tell us.
    Mr. Rosen couldn’t resist mentioning Hillary Clinton’s claim that the United States “could obliterate Iran”, but he does so in a way meant to deceive his readers not enlighten them. No one (not Bush, not McCain, not Clinton, not Obama, not the CIA, not the Mossad and certainly not Rosen)know what the Iranian nuclear ambitions or capabilities really are. There are only two realistic ways of dealing with those ambitions (whatever they may be). The Bush/McCain approach appears to be violent confrontation. The approach suggested by Mrs. Clinton’s remarks represent deterrance. She said if Iran attacked Israel, the United States “could obliterate Iran.” Those who oppose armed confrontation with Iran should welcome those remarks because deterrance is obviously better than armed confrontation. Mrs. Clinton’s remarks were smart and her policy has the potential to save thousands or tens of thousands of lives by avoiding a war with Iran that shouldn’t happen. Or perhaps Mr. Rosen feels that Iran doesn’t need to be deterred. That remarks made by the Iranian President and the Iranian Supreme Leader about the annhilation of Israel should be ignored. One can only speculate how he would respond if the same comments made by thhe Iranian President about Israel had been made by the Israeli Prime Minister about the Palestineans.
    Mr. Rosen wonders “with an aggressive nuclear Israel and U.S regularly rattling their sabers who could blame Iran even if it did seek the security nuclear weapons seem to provide?” I am curious as to what evidence Mr. Rosen has that Israel has rattled their nuclear sword against the Iranians. Israel is frequently criticized for possessing a nuclear arsenal, but as Mr. Rosen surely knows, Israel’s tactical and strategic nuclear weapons are useless in any potential war against the Palestineans or even Southern Lebanon. Exploding nuclear weapons in those conflicts would be like New York exploding a nuclear weapon in New Jersey. Because of the explosive power of the weapons, the damage to Israel would be virtually as great as the damage to the bombed country. Israel’s nuclear weapons are only useful as a deterrance against attack by countries remote from it. But I guess Mr. Rosen doesn’t think Israel needs that deterrent. He blythely criticizes the Sunni Arab world as profoundly bigoted against Shiites but I guess he doesn’t think the Arab world is equally bigoted against Jews. Despite being so well versed in Middle Eastern affairs, I guess he doesn’t have time to read the Arab press and thus doesn’t know how Israelis and Jews are routinely portrayed in Arab society. A fair minded person would conclude that Israel needs it’s nuclear deterrent and needs it badly. But Mr. Rosen isn’t fair minded.
    He wants us to believe that all the problems in the Middle East are the fault of the United States, or the Israelis, or the Sunnis or leaders like King Abdullah, II or President Abbas. The Iranians are just innocent victims. The only people who might need nuclear weapons are them. It might help Mr. Rosen’s analysis of the situation in the Middle East if he boned up on his Shakespeare; you know the part where
    Cassius says “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
    By the way, I liked the smart post by Zathras (above) but I disagree with him about one thing. I vote for more long, detailed posts like the one from Mr. Rosen. It’s not the length that’s the problem, it’s the muddled thinking.

    Reply

  54. Mike Meyer says:

    Want to stop an attack on Iran? Want to get out of Iraq? Then FORCE CONGRESS TO IMPEACH. Call Nancy Pelosi @1-202-225-0100 and DEMAND IMPEACHMENT. DC business hours only, call often, and spread it around.

    Reply

  55. Scott Fox says:

    “Why anybody even hires or publishes Kagan on the Middle East is a mystery…”
    It’s not a mystery sir. The U.S. corporate media is intentionally misleading Americans into supporting more war; it has been doing so for over a hundred years. This is why men like Kagan are hired and published.

    Reply

  56. Zathras says:

    I think of my posts as models of pith. I suppose this is a matter of opinion.
    Don Bacon’s depiction upthread of the idyll that was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq might have earned him a job interview with Saddam’s propaganda ministry back in the day. Otherwise, though, it is beside the point; the Arab perspective in which all their problems are someone else’s fault and the perspective of a small minority of Americans that everyone’s problems are always America’s fault (not theirs, obviously. Never theirs. Always other Americans, the Americans they dislike) really don’t have much to do with one another. America, like any dynamic society, generates a certain amount of alienation, and this alienation is sometimes reflected in the ongoing discussion of foreign policy. A certain number of Americans who were not Nazis condemned the Roosevelt administration’s partiality to Britain and France in the 1930s; some Americans who were not Communists were certain that nothing about the Cold War could be the fault of the Soviet Union; and today there are a few Americans with no more intrinsic interest in Arab affairs than I have who style themselves as partisans of the Arabs — at least of the Arabs now in opposition to the United States.
    This is what it is. What it is not, and is not likely ever to be, is representative of the views of more than a small minority of Americans. Liquidation of the American commitment in Iraq, which I regard as in the American national interest, cannot rest on such a foundation.

    Reply

  57. DonS says:

    I printed out Nir Rosen’s contribution before it disappeared yesterday and, voila, now its back!
    “In the Belly of the Green Bird” was an impressively important book to me and I look forward to more contributions that avoid the delicacy of many writers so stuck in American exceptionalism.

    Reply

  58. DonS says:

    I printed out Nir Rosen’s contribution before it disappeared yesterday and, voila, now its back!
    “In the Belly of the Green Bird” was an impressively important book to me and look forward to more contributions that avoid the delicacy of many writers so stuck in American exceptionalism.

    Reply

  59. Carroll says:

    Bravo for Rosen….

    Reply

  60. PissedOffAmerican says:

    At last, TWN with testosterone.
    I hope Nir Rosen’s contributions are plentiful, and all equally as hard hitting.

    Reply

  61. Don Bacon says:

    Zathras, the Palestine situation is no passing reference, as indicated in polls US support for Israel is the major reason why so many Arabs and so many Muslims hate the United States.
    The US occupation of Iraq shouldn’t be ended only because it’s expensive, but because it’s an unproductive and immoral strategy, and shows signs of spreading, as Rosen indicates. There is no chance of anything called victory when the US and Iran both support Iraq’s impotent, puppet ‘government’ and still the US threatens war on Iran. Stupid!
    There was no “savagery inherent in Arab culture” in Iraq prior to the US invasion. Sunni, Kurd and Shiite got along, lived on the same streets and intermarried. The fact is that it was the violent American military aggression, with its destruction and death squads, and its complicity in the destruction of the Samarra mosque, that upset Iraq far beyond what Saddam and the deadly sanctions had ever done.
    You may think that the Middle East is unimportant, but unfortunately others have decided that it’s not. The ME has been made a center of US attention, and if the war spreads to Iran it could be cataclysmic, which is why Rosen wrote the piece.
    Finally, your comment that Rosen’s piece is too long is petty and inaccurate. Perhaps you couldn’t bring yourself to read it all, but you should. Your pieces aren’t paragons of brevity, are they.

    Reply

  62. JohnH says:

    Greg P writes “American oil execs [are not] chomping at the bit for war with Iran.” True, but those supposedly operating on their behalf are. This is because control of energy assets is what is most important to the American empire, while production is most important to oil execs.
    As in Iraq, all reasons for going to war with Iran have proven to be lies, so US hegemony over energy assets is the only plausible–though publicly denied–reason for going to war. Or does Greg P have another theory (please don’t cite the canards of Iranian nukes or nefarious Iranian involvment in Iraq. Those are the lies that have been discredited.)

    Reply

  63. Zathras says:

    Too long for a blog post, too short for a book.
    I actually share some of Rosen’s views about American miscalculations in Iraq and the Bush administration’s posture toward Iran. I can also testify that his perception that Americans are a lot more interested in their own country’s interests than they are about Iraqis is absolutely accurate.
    But Rosen has gone native. His perspective glosses over every contradiction in Arab politics, blaming everything on the American outsider and his allies — ironically, not unlike the way some Sunni Arabs gloss over all the contradictions of Arab politics, blaming everything on the Shiite Persians. The savagery inherent in Arab culture, and particularly in the Arab culture of Iraq, does not exist for Rosen. It is all someone else’s fault. Dictatorships in other Arab countries are all someone else’s fault. Poverty, injustice, the really astonishing number of Arabs murdered in the most barbarous fashion by other Arabs — all of it is someone else’s fault. Any other view is racist. It’s probably un-Islamic, too, but Rosen doesn’t make this point explicitly, and I don’t wish to be unfair.
    No column about Iraq and Iran from the Arab perspective would be complete without a ritual reference to Israel. Perhaps this is just a reflex; perhaps it is a signal ensuring that certain readers understand whose side the author is on, like the similarly non sequiter quotes from Lenin that used to adorn Soviet-era monographs on agriculture reform in the Ukraine. People say what they think they have to say.
    If the comments above give the impression that their author regards the Arab Middle East as something less than the center of the universe, well, as the saying goes, mission accomplished. The Bush administration has taken a very different view, redirecting the whole orientation of American foreign policy toward the future of this economic and cultural backwater at the expense of our interests in those areas of the world of greater importance to us — which means just about all of them, with the possible exceptions of Antarctica and the middle of Africa. I’ve always thought that the very limited traction its American critics have gotten since the beginning of the Iraq adventure was due in large part to their having shared all the administration’s basic assumptions while differing only on what specific policy steps follow from them.
    But enough. Leave aside whether Arab democracy or the “collective action of poor and oppressed people” are concepts relevant to the real world or just fantasies, the product of people determined to say what they themselves want to hear. The American commitment in Iraq must be liquidated because the United States cannot afford it, and because no conceivable outcome there would be worth the price we have already paid. It could well be that things could get very bad in Iraq once the American army leaves, and in 2003 I would have accepted this as something the United States should exert itself to prevent. That was then. Our situation, the one that matters, has deteriorated, and the time has come to cut our losses.

    Reply

  64. Don Bacon says:

    Nir Rosen has given us a brilliant overview of the current situation and how it differs from the party line. Unfortunately there are others out there, including some well-meaning people, who can’t see the forest for the trees, so we need to disseminate Mr. Rosen’s views as widely as possible, especially to decision-makers. Steve can do it (and is).
    The hawks are currently pushing Michael Yon’s new book: Moment of Truth in Iraq: How a New ‘Greatest Generation’ of American Soldiers is Turning Defeat and Disaster into Victory and Hope
    Michael Yon has been a long-time embedded reporter with US forces who are engaged in a difficult (or impossible) task and are often performing admirably. That’s what Yon reports. Unfortunately, he doesn’t put it in any political context in an effort that, at its heart, is primarily strategic and political, not tactical, and not petty, but grand in its potential for an even bigger disaster than we already have.
    example — from the front flap:
    Think Americans are occupiers, not liberators, of Iraq? Tell that to the wounded Iraqi interpreter, who, convinced he was about to die, begged his U.S. commander to have his heart cut out and buried in America.
    The top endorsement on the back cover is from — guess who — General David Petraeus! Yes, the CG of MNF-I took time out from his busy war schedule to promote a favorable book. Why depend on a retired “analyst” when you can get the real thing!

    Reply

  65. Greg P says:

    Actually, the US oil companies have been banned from operating in Iran for a long time — so non of them are among the firms with memorandums of understanding (MOUs) for the South Pars projects. Most of them are European-based companies like Shell, Total, and OMV. What’s changed in that the Asian and Russian companies (not just Chinese, but Gazprom and Singaporean investors as well) have become willing since the release of the NIE in December to move forward with binding contracts, while the European companies, for the most part, are frozen in place at the MOU stage.
    But anyway, there aren’t American oil execs chomping at the bit for war with Iran… They weren’t for Iraq either… but both of those myths still have a lot of steam in the blogosphere.

    Reply

  66. Bartolo says:

    Thank you, Mr Rosen. Our Middle East policy has become war in search of justification. A skeptic would say Bush chose war to impress and better his father, while McCain looks to better Bush and impress his dead father and grandfather.

    Reply

  67. JohnH says:

    It would help for knowledgeable experts (not Kagan) to emphasize that IRANIANS are mostly PERSIANS, IRAQIS are mostly ARABS. IRANIANS speak FARSI. ARABS speak ARABIC.
    The fault lines between Iran and Iraq are clear, like the fault lines between North Americans and Mexicans. Though we ostensibly share a religion, much else is different. Mexicans distrust America, and America does not trust Mexicans, even though we have a long, common border.
    The difference between the US and Iran is that Iran seems to have accommodated the differences better.
    Either that, or the US is simply looking for a pretext for another pre-emptive war. Remember, Iran has given US oil companies a June 20 deadline on signing deals for South Pars, one of the world’s largest natural gas fields. Either Shell and Total bust the US imposed sanctions or the gas goes to China.
    http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8702070690
    Can you give of a better reason for war to the ex-oil executives occupying the White House?

    Reply

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