Dan Drezner Owes Me $5 Bucks

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Chris Dierkes

Chris Dierkes (aka CJ Smith). 29 years old, happily married, adroit purveyor and voracious student of all kinds of information, theories, methods of inquiry, and forms of practice. Studying to be a priest in the Anglican Church in Canada. Main interests: military theory, diplomacy, foreign affairs, medieval history, religion & politics (esp. Islam and Christianity), and political grand bargains of all shapes and sizes.

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12 Responses

  1. Avatar Will says:

    Dierkes –

    I know you’re a de facto Canuck by now, so I won’t hold this against you. But the $ sign and “bucks” are redundant.Report

  2. Avatar greginak says:

    Part of the problem with bombing Iran, which too few of the war mongers neo cons people who take an aggressive stance get, is that success would be difficult if not impossible. And even if an attack was successful it would delay their nuke program, not stop it. I think Gates said it would only delay their program by 1-3 years.

    “You can read this as an apologia/defense of terrorism and Iranian totalitarianism or you could read it (as I do) as fundamentally correct in its analytic assessment regardless of one’s like/dislike of the regime. “

    You’re read is correct. What is amazing is that people let their dislike of a regime get in the way of doing an accurate analysis of their tactics and strategy. Which leads to the frequent mention of Ahmadinejad’s dismissal of the Holocaust. Yes that makes him ignorant by our standards, but unsurprisingly , the Holocaust is not the most important historical event for people to learn about in the mid-east. But it’s also really freaking screwy that people use ignorance of the Holocaust as a sign of irrationality and dangerousness in a country where a significant percentage of people don’t understand evolution.Report

    • Avatar Max in reply to greginak says:

      The difficulty in succeeding in hitting the target is definitely real. But a lot of Israelis don’t take as seriously the fact that it would only be a “setback.” They point to Osirak, and the more recent strike in Syria — two cases which were thought to produce only setbacks, but in actuality functionally ended the nuclear programs for both countries. (I don’t agree with this assessment, and I think Iran is a very different animal — but that’s where the Israeli govt have their heads.)Report

  3. Avatar North says:

    I don’t see the Israelis actually following through. They like things planned out and they like big payoffs when they operate any further than next door from Israel proper. The Iranians have buried their bomb developments under mountains of stone and the stuck high quality anti-air defenses on top of it.
    On top of that you’ve got the green movement rocking the regime from inside, you know the Israeli moderates are terrified of doing anything that would cause the populace to rally back to the regime.
    The cost benefit calculation can’t possibly appeal to even the crackpots on Netanyahus’ right wing. They’re going to make a lot of noise about it but I don’t see them actually making a move. And of course there’s no doubt at all that the Americans’ won’t be doing it.Report

    • Avatar Max in reply to North says:

      Not to beat a dead horse, but ask yourself — when was the last time Israel operated farther away than next door? Osirak — extremely high-risk aerial mission to disable nuclear facilities in an enemy state. Done secretly and after the express refusal of the US to give the green light. Sound familiar?Report

      • Avatar Chris Dierkes in reply to Max says:

        Max is er on target. (pun not intended). I’ve got to think after having seen the Iraqi and Syrian versions, that the Iranians have more sites, spread out. I mean they did admit (sorta sheepishly) that they had this site. That has to be a cover for other sites doesn’t it?Report

        • Avatar Max in reply to Chris Dierkes says:

          My understanding was that they admitted it because they had already realized that American/Euro/Israeli intelligence had uncovered it and were sitting on the intel for a good release date. (Which they certainly located.) But the real question is less about what the admission signals, and more about the fact that a “secret site” was ever able to exist in the first place. Discussion questions we should be having right now:
          -How long was the lag time between that site getting operational and our awareness of it? If the answer is more than a year, we have a major problem.
          -How large and how well defended are secret sites compared to those already uncovered? If the answer is as well defended, and as large, that’s another major problem.Report

          • Avatar Chris Dierkes in reply to Max says:

            Your understanding is right and the questions are very good ones.

            In the Leverett piece they mention 2005 as I believe the start up date for the facility. That would be after the tail end of the Khatami regime was given a chance to make an overture to the US which the US declined. I think at that point (plus Axis of Evil designation) they went full on for asymmetric warfare.

            Did you see the NyTimes on the differences between Israeli, Euro., and American spy agencies on whether the Iranians are weaponizing?

            If not, here it is. It’s a very good (and scary) piece.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to North says:

      Max I your position but I think you’re underestimating the ability of the Israelis to calculate their costs and benefits. Everything I’ve read and every expert I’ve read quoted (as opposed to right wing idealogues) are generally of the opinion that Iran has located its nuclear assets under too much rock and in too many places for any air strike to do serious damage (and that damage would be paid for dearly in lost planes and pilots). This isn’t Osirak, where the Iraqi’s had no clue that the Israelis were coming nor is it Syria where they couldn’t have done squat even had they known. Iran would know if the Israelis came and they are fully capable of making their airspace very hot. We’re talking advanced radar and bristling anti air defenses. I’m really skeptical that the Israelis would consider it worth the effort.Report

      • Avatar Max in reply to North says:

        your description of Iran is perfectly on point. but i think you may be outsmarting yourself when you talk about “right-wing ideologues” in opposition to experts. in Israel, at least, at this political moment there is not such a clear distinction. netanyahu was for a long time the leader of the center-right in israel, but he was pushed much farther right by the political developments of the last decade. his cabinet — the people with whom he will ultimately make a decision on how to move forward with iran — reflects his new political positioning.

        like i said, i am in agreement with assessments that emphasize the extreme differences in difficulty between iran and iraq. i’m just not sure whether netanyahu’s cabinet is weighing them the same way that we are. what i am sure of is that he has not made up his mind one way or the other, and it would be a mistake to think he could not go in either direction, given the right circumstances.Report

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