Dear Dr. Rice,

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BlaiseP

BlaiseP is the pseudonym of a peripatetic software contractor whose worldly goods can fit into an elderly Isuzu Rodeo. Bitter and recondite, he favors the long view of life, the chords of Steely Dan and Umphrey's McGee, the writings of William Vollman and Thomas Pynchon, the taste of red ale and his own gumbo. Having escaped after serving seven years of a lifetime sentence to confinement in hotel rooms, he currently resides in the wilds of Eau Claire County and contemplates the intersection of mixed SRID geometries in PostGIS.

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50 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    By General LeMay’s napalm Blaise! Agree with you or disagree with you; you can write one mighty fierce chunk of prose!Report

  2. Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

    I’ll go all in on this one with you, BlaiseP. You hit all the points, fiercely. Nicely done (and agreed on all points).

    The rabid pushback on your post, from the usual suspects, will be fun to watch.Report

  3. Avatar David says:

    Nicely said.Report

  4. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    Dutch novelist Leon DeWinter thought her speech rang of genius. You go, girl:

    “My fellow Americans, ours has never been a narrative of
    grievance and entitlement. We have never believed that I am
    doing poorly because you are doing well. We have never been
    jealous of one another and never envious of each others’
    successes.

    No, no, ours has been a belief in opportunity. And it has
    been a constant struggle, long and hard, up and down, to try to
    extend the benefits of the American dream to all. But that
    American ideal is indeed in danger today. There is no country,
    no, not even a rising China that can do more harm to us than we
    can do to ourselves if we do not do the hard work before us here
    at home.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-leadership/post/why-condoleezza-rices-convention-speech-stood-out-transcript-and-analysis/2012/08/30/97e18764-f2ab-11e1-892d-bc92fee603a7_blog.htmlReport

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      Tom, when it comes to grievance and entitlement, nobody’s gored ox is bellowing more loudly than the GOP’s over the passage of Obromneycare. I watch the GOP’s volte-face with undisguised glee as they bitch and moan about this and and many another Obama initiative.

      You see, Tom, Mitt Romney’s really a Manchurian Candidate, a time bomb, just waiting to detonate Democratically. You’re an intelligent man, I’m quite sure you grasp this, but for the others who aren’t as insightful as yourself it’s as obvious as a turd in a punchbowl. Romney’s a Liberal shuhada. Oh, he’ll say what the GOP cretins want to hear but his cunning plan is to get elected, then deficit spend like crazy and even extend Obromneycare. It was his legislation after all, just like No Child Left Behind was really Teddy Kennedy’s legislation, just without the funding.

      My question is this: is it too late for the Republicans? Are the Republicans too stupid to realise this Liberal Jihadi will turn into Mister Big Deficit Spender and more’n likely sell our national parks to Chinese real estate speculators and contaminate our Precious Bodily Fluids with socialist poisons of every sort? It’s enough to make a good solid Conservative defecate a solid gold serrote.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

        TVD, October 2011: “Make Mine Mitt”, plus ça change.

        As for your Manchurian Candidate riff, everybody knows I’m a good-governance moderate, so I’m unmoved.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP says:

          Yeah. Some good governance in the Commonwealth of Mass-o-two-shits. Can’t wait for more of that, only at a national level. Last MBA we had in the Oval Office did such a great job, maybe we oughta make it a requirement for POTUS.

          Don’t be shy now, Tom. We both know Romney’s the Massachurian Candidate. Now’s the time to let everyone else in on the big secret.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

            BP, I’m the wrong tree to bark up with “Massachurian Candidate.” I voted for Dukakis.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP says:

              Oh, I know you’re the wrong tree. Bowie and Eno put it quite nicely:

              Paddy, what a fantastic death abyss
              It’s the Heart’s Filthy Lesson
              Tell the others

              I’m only telling the others. You already know.Report

  5. Avatar George Turner says:

    It’s disturbing, to hear you speak of a sense of vulnerability. Your job as National Security Adviser was to keep the President apprised of such dangers. You were a Sovietologist, already irrelevant and completely unqualified for any Executive advisory capacity. If you didn’t do your job, and you didn’t, you’re not entirely to blame. I blame the idiot who hired you.

    The current National Security Advisor’s qualifications are as a lawyer and lobbyist for Fannie Mae and being related to Joe Biden’s lawyer and Jill Biden’s chief of staff. If Barney Frank and Chris Dodd file a lawsuit against Biden, I’m sure we’ll be perfectly safe.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      See? Even a dork like Donilon can do a better job than Condi Rice. No skyscrapers falling into the middle of Wall Street or big-ass holes in the Pentagon on his watch, nossir.

      But Dr. Rice is a better pianist.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        No skyscrapers ever fell on Wall Street, though they might collapse under the debt Obama has piled up. So exactly how is Condi Rice to blame for not knowing about a secret attack planned under Clinton when the FBI and CIA couldn’t share information because of the wall put up by Clinton appointee Jamie Gorelick, also a Fannie Mae insider and dubbed by the press “The Mistress of Disaster”?

        I think Harry Belafonte got the point about Condi a little more directly, without all the hand waving.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP says:

          My good man, pulverised concrete fell all over Wall Street when the WTC towers came down. Along with that grey dust, (I have a jarful of it, collected in front of Trinity Church at the end of Wall Street, where I went to pray for the souls of six of my friends from Cantor Fitz who died that day) the markets closed, if you recall.

          You clearly do not understand the role of the National Security Advisor. Let us suppose, for a minute, in the interests of charity, that Condi Rice didn’t know about Osama bin Laden or the plot to hijack airliners and plough them into skyscrapers. Then why does she admit these things were told to her? This might lead someone to believe her when she says:

          From that day on — from that day on, our sense of vulnerability and our concepts of security were never the same again.

          This wasn’t a failure at either CIA or FBI. POTUS et. al. were ignoring what they were saying, including Condi Rice. When it gets to the PDB, CIA knows and has second sources. Bushco Inc. was asleep at the switch and you know it.Report

          • Avatar George Turner says:

            How could Condi rice possibly know about a plot to fly airliners into skyscrapers when no one in our entire intelligence community knew about it? The PDB’s are on record, as are statements from almost everyone involved. As the PDB’s detail, we knew they wanted to hijack airliners overseas, as Arab terrorists have often done, and we expected the usual hostage demands over the passengers. Not a hint about hijacking planes in the US, and nothing about flying airliners into buildings instead of trading the passengers for jailed terrorists.

            So can you cite any source where Condi admits that she was told of the plot to hijack US airliners and fly them into buildings? Would it perhaps be the same source where Dick Cheney admits he’s a reptiloid from Beta Reticula?Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              The intel community had known flying planes into building was a possibility. It was a tactic they had feared. That doesn’t imply anyone knew what going to happen on 911 or had any specific info. But they they were aware it was a possibility.Report

            • Avatar Jon H says:

              ” Not a hint about hijacking planes in the US, and nothing about flying airliners into buildings instead of trading the passengers for jailed terrorists.”

              Someone more informed about terrorist threats might have been aware of the 1990s hijacking of the French airliner with the intention of crashing it in Paris.Report

            • Avatar George Turner says:

              But everything possible is a possibility, from a semtex pinata at Joe Biden’s birthday party to unsniffable charcoal/LOX bombs in organ transplant coolers. We picked up nothing in the chatter to indicate an airliner building attack, in part because the New York Times had leaked that we were eavesdropping on their network so Al Qaeda avoided electronic communications. Until we were on a war footing there would’ve been little or nothing we could’ve done to stop it without more information on the perpetrators, information which happened to be sitting on a laptop in our possession that nobody was allowed to examine because of Jamie Gorelick’s intelligence wall.

              Someone more informed about terrorist threats might have been aware of the 1990s hijacking of the French airliner with the intention of crashing it in Paris.

              And someone more informed of terrorists threats would’ve noted that the Algerian civil war was long over and that the terrorists hijacked a plane in Algeria, while it was at the airport, and that the plane was surrounded. The saga went on for days, negotiating, releasing passengers, making demands, flying to another airport, etc. The reported plan was uncovered after the initial hijacking, while negotiations continued, and it was to blow up the plane over the Eiffel Tower, not crash into it, and in the end the aircraft was successfully stormed and retaken. So the plot was nothing like 9/11, and would in fact lead intelligence officials to expect a plot to hijack an airliner overseas, where the terrorists would make demands and try to hopscotch their way to a US target, which, sure enough, is what the PDB’s roughly indicated. And of course Clinton had eight years to think about the Algerian hijacking yet didn’t beef up security at US airports or treat Al Qaeda as a military threat instead of a criminal one.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP says:

              You are wrong and the 9/11 Commission are quite clear on this subject. Al Qaeda had already attacked the WTC once. In her testimony Rice admits they knew plenty and all they did was issue a circular to FAA.

              RICE: Mr. Roemer, let’s be very clear. The PDB does not say the United States is going to be attacked. It says bin Laden would like to attack the United States. I don’t think you, frankly, had to have that report to know that bin Laden would like to attack the United States.

              ROEMER: So why aren’t you doing something about that earlier than August 6th? (APPLAUSE) RICE: The threat reporting to which we could respond was in June and July about threats abroad. What we tried to do for — just because people said you cannot rule out an attack on the United States, was to have the domestic agencies and the FBI together to just pulse them and have them be on alert.

              ROEMER: I agree with that.

              RICE: But there was nothing that suggested there was going to be a threat…

              ROEMER: I agree with that.

              RICE: … to the United States.

              ROEMER: I agree with that. So, Dr. Rice, let’s say that the FBI is the key here. You say that the FBI was tasked with trying to find out what the domestic threat was. We have done thousands of interviews here at the 9/11 Commission. We’ve gone through literally millions of pieces of paper. To date, we have found nobody — nobody at the FBI who knows anything about a tasking of field offices. We have talked to the director at the time of the FBI during this threat period, Mr. Pickard. He says he did not tell the field offices to do this. And we have talked to the special agents in charge. They don’t have any recollection of receiving a notice of threat. Nothing went down the chain to the FBI field offices on spiking of information, on knowledge of Al Qaida in the country, and still, the FBI doesn’t do anything. Isn’t that some of the responsibility of the national security advisor?

              RICE: The responsibility for the FBI to do what it was asked was the FBI’s responsibility. Now, I…

              ROEMER: You don’t think there’s any responsibility back to the advisor to the president… RICE: I believe that the responsibility — again, the crisis management here was done by the CSG. They tasked these things. If there was any reason to believe that I needed to do something or that Andy Card needed to do something, I would have been expected to be asked to do it. We were not asked to do it. In fact, as I’ve…

              ROEMER: But don’t you ask somebody to do it? You’re not asking somebody to do it. Why wouldn’t you initiate that? Report

            • Avatar George Turner says:

              So without knowing about the plan to fly planes into buildings, what could Rice have possibly told the FBI that wouldn’t have just had them sending an agent to occassionally sit in the lobby of the World Trade Center, a building that was already fully of security people? That would’ve been really helpful, eh?

              The plot was planned under Bill Clinton’s tenure, and he didn’t know to do anything about it, either. The only way we could’ve figured out the plan is to access a hard drive that we weren’t allowed to access because of the rules set down by one of Clinton’s appointees.

              There was vastly less information (virtually none) pointing to such an attack than there was about Pearl Harbor, which had been long predicted by Hector C Bywater in his book on the upcoming Pacific War, which he kicked off with a surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor occuring on Sunday morning. That book was debated by none other than Franklin D. Roosevelt in an series of newspaper articles. We also knew that Bywater’s book was used in a course taught at the Japanese Naval Academy, and its author was a friend of Admiral Yamamoto. So Roosevelt knew the method, the target, the perpetrators, and the day of the week of the attack on Pearl Harbor, did nothing, yet is not blamed for not seeing it coming, but Condi Rice, who knew only that Al Qaeda wanted to hit us somewhere, somehow, is, out of all the thousands and thousands of people in our intelligence agencies, military, and law enforcement, supposed to bear the blame for 9/11?

              Why not just jump up and down and scream “It’s the black lady’s fault!!! It’s got to be the black lady’s fault!!!”?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                If you didn’t do your job, and you didn’t, you’re not entirely to blame. I blame the idiot who hired you.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                And what job didn’t she do? Law enforcement already keeps an eye out for terrorist threats, hijackings, and general mayhem. Without something more specific, a high administration official alerting them to be on the lookout for “trouble” would have sounded quite ridiculous.

                “Good morning, ma’am, FBI.”
                “This is Condi Rice. I fear the threat of an Al Qaeda terrorist attack and want you to be on the lookout.”

                “Where at ma’am? What city?”
                “I’m not sure. It could be somewhere in the US. It could be overseas.”

                “Do you know when they plan to strike?”
                “No, just sometime, perhaps today, perhaps next year.”

                “Do you know the names of anyone involved in carrying it out?”
                “No, we don’t know who.”

                “How many people might be involved?”
                “We don’t know.”

                “Do you know what kind of attack? Truck bomb, suicide vest, shooting?”
                “No, we don’t know how they intend to attack, either.”

                “So you don’t know who, when, where, or how.”
                “No, but I sense danger.”

                “Ma’am, is this a crank call?”

                You could’ve called the FBI and told them as much information as our government had. Why don’t you blame yourself for not warning them of some nebulous threat? Then they would’ve immediately realized “Aha! Not only was the murder carried out by Colonel Mustard in the library with a candle stick, but a man named Muhammed Atta and 18 associates are going to hijack planes out of Boston, New York, and DC and use them like guided missiles!”

                Wouldn’t it make more sense to blame Bill Clinton for giving them the idea in the first place?Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Now GT, lets give credit where it’s due. Democrats and Obama certainly have contributed significantly to the deficit and debt but the big budget busters were Bush Minor with his massive tax cuts (unmatched by spending cuts) and wars on the national credit card (to say nothing of his Medicaid expansion) and the fallout from the rest of his budgeting shenanigans. Oh and of course along with Bush was the GOP very expressly including Ryan who suspended their own Paygo rules and spent like it was going out of fashion. At least Obama has a historic recession to point at as a fig leaf, what was the GOP’s excuse; that they inveigled against deficits once they were no longer in a position to do anything about it? In my books that just adds disingenuousness and hypocrisy to their descriptors (liberals at least don’t pretend that deficit reduction is their first priority).Report

          • Avatar George Turner says:

            Perhaps these charts of receipts and outlays by year will help clarify the problem.

            http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=200

            We were like a family whose father was living a bit too large on credit cards. At present we’re like a family whose father developed a gambling addiction and a coke habit and who’s demanding that we take out another mortgage so he can hold off the bookies, drug dealers, and bill collectors until his horse comes in. Very soon it will all come crashing down around our heads.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

              No, a nations debt is not analogous to a family budget. It is perhaps the silliest analogy a human being can make, especially when we can still borrow money at a negative interest rate. We should be spending more money now while we still can to keep the nation afloat while closing loopholes and reforming the tax code so maybe we actually have some decent tax revenue.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                So why don’t we just borrow a quadrillion dollars and all go party in Cancun?Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                It’d probably work better than begging job creators to make some jobs as they sit on the highest corporate profits in history.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Well, your utopian plan of living off other people’s money has a few snags. For one, federal income has never exceeded 21% of GDP in our entire history, even with 90% tax rates. Obama is spending 22+% of GDP per year. No tax rate we’ve ever used can make up that gap, which means we’ll never be able to pay the people who are loaning us money. They’ll soon notice this little problem and stop loaning us anything.

                Second, even if you go past 100% tax rates and just start grabbing not just income, but assets of all the richest people in the US, you still can’t make a dent in the problem. If you liquidated Apple, the comany with the most net worth, you’d cover us for about a month, but then you’d never get any more revenues from Apple. And of course as we start “nationalizing” our most productive companies all foreign and domestic investment will slam to a halt. Lots of countries went down that road and it ends in a ditch.

                We’re very rich, and we’re spending money being loaned to us by the rest of the world, which isn’t nearly as rich, and we’re borrowing about 40 cents of every dollar we’re spending. There’s only a finite amount of money poorer people are going to give to us before they notice that their own children can’t afford to eat. There isn’t a country out there with an infinite amount of money to throw away on bridge projects in Ohio and multi-million dollar pensions for California road workers.

                They only loan us money because we’ve been very good at paying it back, with interest, and it’s impossible for us to do that if we’re spending more than any historical tax rate on our own country has ever brought in. When we’re borrowing money from foreign countries to pay interest to foreign countries that have loaned us money, we are exactly in the position of an alcoholic gambler who is borrowing money from a new sucker to pay off the old suckers, and that always ends badly.

                We don’t have a rich uncle. Historically we were the rich uncle. Uncle Sam is going through a rough patch with the ponies and we’re going to have to cancel is credit cards and put him on a small allowance as we try to recover from his last drunken binge.

                The money the government is borrowing is debts we have to pay back. Most of us are already up to our eyeballs in government debt, and perhaps you are one of the people who are getting all that sweet government cash instead of one of the people obligated to pay for it. Kicking the can down the road is the same as saying “My horse will come in – tomorrow.”

                We’re already feeling the profound effects, and as Ryan said, getting your college degree, moving back into your childhood bedroom and staring at a fading Obama poster because there aren’t any jobs isn’t what we imagined when we voted for Hope and Change.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                If we want to get those kids out of their bedrooms and turned into taxpayers, it might help if the idiots in the GOP thought about investing in this country the way Mitt Romney thinks about investing in KB Toys.

                Don’t listen to Paul Ryan. He couldn’t find his ass in the dark with both hands and a searchlight. Mitt Romney’s rich uncle was Wall Street, who loaned him all that money so he could wreck KB Toys and that’s exactly how he’s planning to operate if elected.

                No, George, you want a grown-up in charge and that’s Obama, not Plastic Man. Plastic Man Romney’s plan is to borrow our way to prosperity. When Clinton’s economy took off, courtesy of the Internet, we were running a surplus. The tax rates don’t matter as much as taxes collected: when the economy’s doing well, we always collect more money. Beyond a certain rate, lowering the tax rate doesn’t really benefit the economy.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              Good lord, so much spin and lame analogy. A bit too large on the credit card? The man took a surplus budget and turned it into a significant deficit while the economy was booming and he then passed on a dump truck load of structural deficit, two morass wars and a collapsing economy on to his successor (who of course didn’t feel like taking the politically poisonous step of cleaning up his predecessors mess as a first priority).
              The deficit is a combination of both spending outlays and tax revenues. Of course the difference between them was smaller during the Bush years; he didn’t have a historic recession crushing federal revenues. Of course they did have a historic GOP policy of pushing tax rates to the lowest level since the forties helping things along. Look, there’s no claiming that Obama didn’t run up the deficit; he did. But he did it in partnership with the GOP both before and during his term as President.
              Nor are Obama or his party of even most leftists claiming that the deficit can be ignored and business can go on as usual. They merely insist that the budget cannot be balanced only by cutting spending which is patently obvious. The last four years have consisted of both sides insisting that they want to fix the deficit problem with the GOP (in control of only one branch of the legislative) throwing a fit because they can’t force that solution to be 100% in the form they prefer (their preferred form, 100% cuts with a Democratic President in place to take the blame, yeah big surprise O said no dice).
              And really no one should be deluded into thinking the US couldn’t relatively easily fix our debt problem. Hell, the current default course that has been put into place: a “fiscal cliff” of the Bush Tax Cuts expiring plus sequestration landing will push the deficit numbers into a pretty tolerable direction (it also has a seriously likelihood of driving up unemployment and inducing a new recession). But the numbers, while politically toxic, aren’t difficult to sort out.
              http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2011/04/american_government_debt_7Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Under Clinton, once Newt took the House, we had a dot-com boom and revenues averaged 19.45% of GDP and spending averaged 19.35% of GDP.

                Under Bush, hit with a recession and a war, revenues averaged 17.63% of GDP and spending averaged 19.63 % of GDP (a 2% of GDP average deficit). 2007 revenues (after the recession and prior to the housing crash) were 18.5% of GDP, 1% of GDP less than Clinton averaged, and spending was 19.6% of GDP, 0.25% of GDP higher than Clinton. So with the Bush tax cuts and war spending, but without a recession, we were running a deficit of about 1.25% of GDP. That’s a deficit that Democrats were screaming about.

                Under Obama, revenue has averaged 15.35% of GDP (this recession is far worse than the one under Bush), and spending has averaged 24.42% of GDP. Instead of Bush’s 2% GDP average deficit or his 1% non-recession deficit, Obama has a 9% GDP deficit. The highest revenue ever attained was 20.9% of GDP in 1944, so even if Obama had WW-II tax rates during an economic boom, he would still be running twice the average Bush deficit and almost four times Bush’s 2007 pre housing-crash deficit. If even a hypothetical economic boom and incredibly high war-time tax rates won’t close the spending gap, we’ve got to cut spending back to amounts that revenues can sustain, because we are the ones who eventually have to cover the borrowing, and the amounts are getting hard to paper over with fancy financial tricks.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                More spin meistering, of course the % of GDP went up since the total GDP shrank during the great recession (and spending went up). Look no one outside the hardcore GOP base is going to buy the ridiculous idea that the debt is not a bipartisan fiasco. Just like, barring a complete sweep of the election, there’s no way that the right will ever have the political power (or the rectitude) to balance the budget using only spending cuts (that exempt Medicare and actually increase defense spending).Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                No, the GDP is 1.3% higher now than in 2007, but spending went up 25% (in constant 2005 dollars). If Obama only spent at the levels Clinton did in 1999 and 2000 (in constant dollars) we’d have a balanced budget right now. Instead we’re running $1.3 trillion dollar deficit by spending 60% more than Clinton was or 33% more as a percent of GDP.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                once Newt took the House, we had a dot-com boom

                So *that*’s who invented the internet.Report

  6. Avatar James H. says:

    You were a Sovietologist, already irrelevant and completely unqualified for any Executive advisory capacity

    Because she didn’t know anything outside her specialty? She wasn’t generally considered a leading intellectual in international relations?

    Your need to write completely absolutist statements, almost always in a flatly condemnatory way, is not admirable, despite your undoubted erudition. Reading Richard Rhodes The Making of the Atomic Bomb I was struck today by Einstein’s admiration for Niels Bohr, who “utter[ed] his opinions like one perpetually groping and never like one who [believed himself to be] in the possession of definite truth.” In contrast, your writing, with its messianic fervor, gives the impression of someone who does seem to believe himself to be in possession of certain truth.

    One need not defend Rice’s tenure as NSA or SecState to recognize that calling her “completely unqualified” based on her expertise in the USSR is not based in any recognizable reality. Perhaps Blaise is unaware of what happened to all those old Sovietologists? Most of whom did not stop studying Russia just because the Politburo no longer existed, but continued to study the country that had long interested them and that remained critically important to US interests. That doesn’t fit the simplistic model necessary for expounding absolute truth, but it does have the virtue of fitting the facts on the ground better.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      That’s as convoluted a bit of ignorantio elenchi as I’ve seen in recent times.

      I know what happened to the old Sovietologists. Quite a few of them went on to careers in marketing communications. I know quite a few of them.Report

  7. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    “You were a Sovietologist, already irrelevant and completely unqualified for any Executive advisory capacity.”

    Right, because Russia stopped existing in 1989.Report

    • Avatar Jon H says:

      Russia didn’t stop existing. Its significance largely did, along with its defense spending during the 90’s.

      China and stateless terrorism were more relevant in the post-Clinton era. I’m not sure how useful being a Sovietologist is with regards to modern China, since the Soviets weren’t manufacturing our consumer products, nor were they our creditor. Sovietology might be useful in deciphering the political maneuverings of the Chinese Communist Party, but as a practical matter, our relations are hugely different.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        That sums it up nicely. Condi Rice and the Sovietologists had utterly failed to predict the downfall of the USSR when it happened. I am on record in 1983, predicting the downfall of the USSR, saying the elderly Kremlin leadership couldn’t possibly hold onto power in the wake of their failed invasion of Afghanistan. From what I’d seen and heard from the refugees at the Coburg processing facility, I knew the jig was up.

        The Sovietologists had ossified, reduced to so much fearmongering and reading of the photos of each May Day parade, issuing prognostications about who was really in charge based on the lineup of the old farts atop the reviewing stand on the Lenin Mausoleum. The joke at the time was: from the top of Lenin’s Tomb, they were scouting out the best spot in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis for themselves.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          Those who know don’t talk; those who talk don’t know.

          (Please try to come up with something other than a variant on “and here you are talking”. Try “I know you are but what am I”, or maybe “you’re not the President of it”.)Report

  8. Avatar Jon H says:

    “The dictators in Iran are an interesting bunch: we can hardly blame them for feeling paranoid when the USA has overthrown the regimes to their respective east and west, Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    And it surely doesn’t help that the USA overthrew an Iranian regime, too.Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      When did we overthrow an Iranian regime? Wouldn’t such an act require more than the CIA sending two ex frat boys with a couple thousand dollars in walking around money to pass out in a crowd? Wouldn’t it require us to remove or eliminate the legitimate ruler, who was the Shah? But wait, the Shah was the one we supported, and he was only out of the country about a week. Then he flew back and jailed the guy who’d illegally claimed power, much like Obama would do if John Boehner claimed the Presidency while Obama was off golfing in Scotland. I suppose if two dudes from the Iranian embassy blew beer money at a ReOccupy Rally while Obama was flying home to deliver a beat-down on Boehner, they might claim they’d overthrown the US government, but somehow I doubt their claim would pass the laugh test.

      If we could really overthrow hostile military governments by sending two guys with a couple thousand bucks, don’t you think we’d have toppled the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact, Cuba, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia using only enough people for a football team and less money than it takes to buy a 30-second campaign commercial, instead of funding and staffing the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, and State Department?Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        Hi, go Google 1953 Iranian coup and get back to me. Cool?Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        Did you read the Google? Helping a country’s ruler retain power is not “overthrowing” a regime, and the person the Shah threw in jail was not the legitimate ruler, nor had he even been elected by the people to be in charge of the Iranian Parliament, because that’s not how their system worked.

        Mosaddegh resigned when the Shah refused to grant him powers that no Shah had ever relinquished, and the Shah appointed a different person Prime Minister, a man who’d first held the post in 1920 and served in the role five times. After staging protests, the Shah dismissed the new Prime Minister (He had the power to do that, which you might want to note) and reappointed Mosaddegh. If the Shah could dismiss his predecessor then the Shah could dismiss Mosaddegh, could he not?

        So Mossaddegh got parliament to grant him the authority to rule by decree, passing anything he wanted without a vote or the approval of anyone. I believe most people call that tyranny. He also suspended elections (and had suspended vote counting halfway through the previous election so that his party could hold parliament), and got Parliament to extend his rule-by-decree powers from 6 months to 12 months. Then he forbade the Shah, the actual ruler of Iran, from meeting with foreign diplomats, along with a host of other restrictions on his superior, the person who’d appointed him to his post.

        So you not only have Boehner overthrowing Obama, but granting himself the power to rule by decree and suspending elections. This after an election in which Boehner had declared that votes from Democrat counties wouldn’t be counted, packing the House with Republicans. At what point in this process do you call Obama returning to arrest him an “overthrow” of the government? How can you call an appointed legislator who suspends elections, rules by fiat, and assumes powers never granted to him a “legitimate” ruler?

        But the overthrow claim fits with the narrative of the evil white oppressor man who’s keeping the proletariat down, so logic, reason, common sense, and facts don’t matter.Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

          I like how you don’t mention the “elections” you talked about were widely seen as illegitimate due to British agents paying off regional bosses and bribing candidates along with helping “shift” voting results in rural areas.

          So, yes, it would be like if Obama, if he was an unelected monarch sent out spies with British help to make Democrats win congressional seats in rural Alabama and Texas, then act like it was a clean election. And then ignore a referendum that passed overwhelmingly that gave the PM power to pass law.Report

          • Avatar George Turner says:

            Well gee, if a handful of guys can buy an election (the vaunted “project Ajax” was two dudes with a suitcase containing thousands of dollars), why do we even bother voting? Heck, my two college housemates could cash in their beer fund, spread it at a Tea Party rally, and keep Obama in office. That’s such an obvious possibility that I think Boehner is completely justified in only counting votes from Republican counties, because we can’t be sure that two kids didn’t spend $10 grand to buy the election for Obama. That would surely make Boehner’s suspension of Democrat voting rights legitimate, along with his ouster of Obama himself, rule by decree, and all the rest.

            Yes sir, it’s okay to only count the votes from your party strongholds as long as you can claim a bizarre multi-thousand dollar conspiracy by foreign interests carried out by [i]dozens[/i] of people.

            Back in the real world, those kind of shenanigans wouldn’t sway a race for city alderman in Cleveland, and are an accepted part of Democrat politics, including all the bags of Chinese cash Arkansas restauranteurs brought to Clinton. Heck, the nefarious Chicoms may have even used targeted fortune cookies on unsuspecting Republicans. I guess you think Newt Gringrich would’ve been justified in suspending the counting of Democrat votes and siezing power to combat their evil schemes.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP says:

              AJAX was substantially more than a suitcase full of dollars. To make your example work, the USA would have collapsed after WW1, with the British helping to install, then removing Obama’s father, who would die of cancer in British exile.

              John Boehner would also have to tell the winner of WW2 he wanted to return to the Constitution and the those would make short work of that bit of impudence, turning Obama into an autocrat with a full complement of the winner’s advisors.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          Helping a country’s ruler retain power is not “overthrowing” a regime

          That’s an interesting way of describing British Petroleum.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP says:

          Here’s what really happened. The USSR began to launch satellites from Baikonur. The Americans didn’t have a line of sight perch. The USA asked Iran if they could put in antennas and radars to watch those launches from atop the Alburz mountain range.

          Mossadegh said no: he shared a long border with the USSR and wanted to remain neutral. The USA under Eisenhower would have none of that and set Kermit Roosevelt to the task of removing Mossadegh. But before we can get to that point, a bit of history.

          The merchant class of Persia has always run their society and they’re a far more scholarly people than might be supposed, still are, too. The old Qajar Shah was a silly old spendthrift with a cruel streak and the Persians wanted something better. And they got it, too, a parliament, of sorts, at the beginning of the 20th century.

          The old Qajar Shah’s only son, the idiot Muhammad Ali, only lasted a couple of years. The merchants and the intellectuals ran him off in short order, installing his child, the even more useless Ahmad, in his place. Persia needed a constitutional revolution and they found allies in the British. Or so they thought. More fools they, those well-meaning constitutionalists. They would learn the British would sell them out, twice.

          WW1 comes and goes, for a while the British and Russians are on the same side, fighting the Ottomans. But with the end of WW1 and the Russian Revolution, the British would fight the Russians. When the elephants fight, the grass gets trampled and thus it was with Iran. Into this chaos was born a boy named Ruhollah Khomeini. When at last the Pahlavi clan under Reza comes to power, they do not so much overthrow the Qajar dynasty as pick up the pieces of a failed constitutional reform process. The merchants and the intellectuals are restored to power.

          Reza Pahlavi begins well enough: he had the support of an odd coalition of the best minds in Iran as well as the Shi’a theologians and the British. He was a remarkable man, Reza Shah: his record of reforms is not understood in the West. He had the respect of all and sundry in Iran, especially for standing up to the British and the Russians who had treated Iran as if it were their own personal chess board. Though he modernised Iran, he had the loyalty of its most-conservative elements.

          The British had helped put him in power but they went back to their old bad habits. as the colonial powers always do. The Great Powers weren’t alone in returning to their old habits: Reza had gone from being a wise leader to just another vicious and unprincipled autocrat on the model of the unlamented Qajar shahs. Furthermore, the old Shah made the mistake of siding with Britain and Russia’s enemy, the Third Reich. Many comings and goings from the Reich to the “Home of the Aryans”, for that is what Iran means in Persian.

          As in WW1, the British and the USSR found common cause and Iran would again be occupied. The USSR wanted Iran’s oil for WW2, the British were glad enough to have Shah Reza deposed and exiled in 1941. Though he had become a bad king, Iran never forgot this act of treachery, especially not Ruhollah Khomeini.

          The old Shah had clearly been a Nazi, but then most everyone in that time zone had come to hate the British and would support anyone who opposed them. This was also true in Iraq: the British had made their bed very hard since the beginning of the 20th century. The Ba’ath Party and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem also had Nazi sympathies.

          To say Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi refused to grant Mossadegh powers that no Shah had ever relinquished is a fatuous misreading of history. Reza Shah had been given mandate by Iran’s parliament, exactly as William of Orange had been set up as a constitutional monarch by the British Parliament in the Glorious Revolution. When the Americans overthrew Mossadegh in 1953, they undid five decades of reforms, creating yet another autocrat on the model of the old Shah Reza.

          The rest you know, of Muhammad Reza Pahlavi’s fall from grace. He wore out his welcome with random precision. The radars were built. Ruhollah Khomeini would come back from exile. The intellectual tradition of Iran, its long struggle for constitutional reform — the Islamists smashed it all to atoms.

          The worst evils are brought about with the best of intentions. The Americans just wanted to listen to some rocket telemetry. Mossadegh represented one face of Iran’s hatred of being dragged into the conflicts of the West, Ruhollah Khomeini would represent another.Report