The Cleric and the Bombers: Iran’s Hassan Rouhani

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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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58 Responses

  1. Avatar North
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    says:

    Agreed, entirely. Iran can be restricted to a peaceful nuclear program; it is possible both legally, logistically and practically. Every actor in this play is motivated to resolve this peacefully. Iran needs the sanctions relaxed, America wants a nuclear Iran (and Israel screaming about a nuclear Iran) off their plate without a war or other such expensive nonsense, Russia would enjoy flexing their new diplomatic credit by participating in such a deal, the EU just wants it all to go away and the Sunni Arabs like the idea of Shia having nukes even less than they like the idea of Jews having them.
    Obama just needs to forge ahead and hope that both sides (Iran’s religious nuts, America’s neocon nuts, Israels Likud nuts) can keep their kooks locked in the attic while the grownups work something out.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to North
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      says:

      From the linked article by Dr. Chen Kane

      Rohani emphasizes that overcoming the nuclear program’s technical obstacles would have important implications for Iran’s standing in the international community: “This is good for our international reputation and shows that we have made good technological progress and have been successful in the area of technology. . . . It is going to be a very effective and important statement.” It would also, he observes, present the world with Iran’s nuclear program as a fait accompli, which underscores that Iran’s current and previous regimes shared one goal: mastering the nuclear fuel cycle. “If one day we are able to complete the fuel cycle and the world sees that it has no choice—that we do possess the technology—then the situation will be different. The world did not want Pakistan to have an atomic bomb or Brazil to have the fuel cycle, but Pakistan built its bomb and Brazil has its fuel cycle, and the world started to work with them. Our problem is that we have not achieved either one, but we are standing at the threshold. As for building the atomic bomb, we never wanted to move in that direction and we have not yet completely developed our fuel cycle capability. This also happens to be our main problem.”

      Rouhani is a known quantity, the engines of statecraft already have him in their contact lists. He was devoted to Ayatollah Khomeini from the beginning. He’s been to prison. Lenin said a prison term was the revolutionary’s finishing school — he’s survived everything. Hassan Rouhani isn’t some facile Hope ‘n Change kinda guy, he wants a powerful Iran and with excellent reasons.

      Iran’s been led by some godawful zealots. The worst was surely that babbling idiot Ahmedinejad. What an embarrassment he was to Iran. Iran’s a great nation, terribly misunderstood, it should be as important a player as most of the European nations by my lights and would be — were it not for the doctrinaire lunkheads in Qom.

      Well, now Iran has a mullah in charge, with impeccable credentials for scheming and knife fighting. Rouhani was waist deep in the Iran-Contra deal with Reagan’s people. This is a devil we know and have long respected — but one we never enabled, one capable of doing the needful for Iran. That’s all we could ever ask of any president of any nation: do your damned job. Rouhani is the best possible character to turn up on the stage, just now. Obama is incredibly lucky he’s appeared.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to North
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      says:

      A YouTube thing I did about Iran some while back.Report

    • Avatar NotMe in reply to North
      Ignored
      says:

      “Agreed, entirely. Iran can be restricted to a peaceful nuclear program; it is possible both legally, logistically and practically.

      Sure like North Korea?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to NotMe
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        says:

        Truth is, nobody’s really sure if DPRK has detonated a nuclear weapon. The seismography says it was either an awfully teeny nuke, which would require sophisticated engineering most people don’t believe DPRK possesses — or it was a shitload of TNT. And the seismographs say it looks more like TNT than a nuke. Not enough overpressure at the instant of detonation. The odds are it was just so much TNT.

        DPRK is led by a madman. Iran is not. True, Rouhani is a liar, but the Preznit of the United States has told us a few porkies of unusual size too. This should not disturb rational people. Politicians are not known for their truth-telling. I’ve laid out the case for Rouhani’s many little eviltudes. The difference between Hassan Rouhani and Kim Jong Un is obvious: the one is now extending his hand to the USA after years of crazies shouting Death to America. The other is still shouting and embarrassing himself.Report

      • Avatar NotMe in reply to NotMe
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        says:

        True, no one is 100% sure that the NK don’t have a weapon. However, the Defense Intelligence Agency thinks they do.

        http://www.heritage.org/research/lecture/2013/05/does-north-korea-have-a-missile-deliverable-nuclear-weaponReport

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to NotMe
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        says:

        I wouldn’t put much stock in anything but the evidence. There is none. I trust nothing out of Heritage anyway. After the Jason Richwine fiasco and Jim DeMint’s stroll through Heritage’s revolving door, they need to clean house and give some of their cherished old bull elephants the old heave-ho. As for DIA, they screwed the pooch on 9/11 and Iraq — for all those years of Americans screwing up in Iraq, from Bush the Elder to Obama — so badly, nobody takes them seriously anymore either.

        Poor Dr. Schneider. Trying to say “a recent unclassified Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report, revealed by Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO)” is not being factual.

        It should have read Representative Doug Lamborn, notable Congressional Ignoramus, who shouldn’t be trusted with anything sharper than a Q-Tip, opened his otherwise useless pie hole and started quoting classified assessments on DPRK.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to NotMe
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        says:

        Or it was a fizzle. If they were attempting an implosion bomb (and there’s no need to test a gun-type nuke) and they didn’t have their implosive lenses correctly shaped the two parts of the fissile material wouldn’t compress properly to create a proper critical mass. Some would start fissioning and the rest wouldn’t.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to NotMe
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        says:

        I’ve heard that possibility, too, I fear a Dirty Nuke almost as much as one which achieves criticality. Iran could certainly create such a weapon at present, too. Just stir in some plutonium to spice up your conventional truck bomb (invented by Hizb’allah, though the fire ship is very ancient ) and you’ve created an Internashnul Hinkydink.

        During the Iran/Iraq War, Iran’s troops were gassed. Though I have no reason for this opinion, Iran’s gestures of diplomacy seem to be some effort to distance themselves from Assad, rather like someone finding an excuse to extract himself from the clutches of the bore (or boor) at the dinner party. Russia might relish the opportunity to rescue Assad from his present difficulties, Iran seems sick of its own expensive interventionism.

        The USA gave Iran a mighty gift, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein — and in particular the death of Chemical Ali who gassed them. The Americans said they’d leave Iraq and they did. Iran’s grateful, both for the war and for our exit from the situation, though they’ll never say as much.

        Every so often in geopolitics, I think we ought to declare a particular framework bankrupt. Iran is an important nation. Turn over a new leaf. If they’re sneaky and untrustworthy, well, so are we. Let the merchants sort out what good can come of rapprochement. Iran needs a break, both from its own bluffing and posturing and rattlin’ on about Death to the Great Satan — and from the sanctions, which really are not hurting anyone but the ordinary people of Iran. If need be, we can go back to saber rattling and threats and imprecations. A few kindly gestures of respect would go a long way after all these decades of crazy talk.Report

      • Avatar NotMe in reply to NotMe
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        says:

        Blaise:

        Your dislike of the Heritage Foundation aside, it does not change the fact that the DIA thinks the NKs have a nuke. Do you have any information that the DIA report is not based on fact? Also, Rep Lamborn was asking about an unclassified section of the DIA report.

        http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/north-korea-put-nuke-missile-us-intelligence-agency/story?id=18935588Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to NotMe
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        says:

        My conclusions vary with the evidence. There’s not enough evidence for me to conclude DPRK has a working nuclear weapon.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to NotMe
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        says:

        Or it was a fizzle. If they were attempting an implosion bomb (and there’s no need to test a gun-type nuke) and they didn’t have their implosive lenses correctly shaped the two parts of the fissile material wouldn’t compress properly to create a proper critical mass. Some would start fissioning and the rest wouldn’t.

        Real question, because I don’t know how to look up the answer. Is there enough TNT in an implosion-type bomb to make an impressive explosion if it fizzles?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to NotMe
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        says:

        Some nuclear weapons have fizzled. The DPRK 2006 test was even less fizzly than most such fizzles. Consider this evidence.

        North Korea produces plenty of TNT. Either the Chinese have been letting them have some supercomputer time, or AQ Khan gave them the Dummies’ Guide to Constructing Implosion-Type Nuclear Bombs — there are too many gaps in DPRK’s story to believe they’ve mastered low-KT weapons on their first time at the rodeo.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to NotMe
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        says:

        Mike,

        No. In a fizzle the bang still comes from the plutonium. It just doesn’t manage to achieve an on-going reaction, so only a small part of the plutonium fissions, instead of all of it. But there’s not that much TNT in it.Report

  2. Avatar George Turner
    Ignored
    says:

    Victor Davis Hanson has a slightly different take on why Iran is suddenly reaching a hand out to Obama, based on Assad’s overwhelming good fortune.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to George Turner
      Ignored
      says:

      Thank you for linking to that spectacular article. My mind has been changed by its brilliant insight and careful marshaling of the evidence.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to George Turner
      Ignored
      says:

      The slight difference between ol’ VDH and myself resolves to an excess of psychologising on his part. Everything that man writes is ridiculous. The US military told Clinton to stay out of Rwanda because they couldn’t extend themselves into the jungle without a repeat of the various fiascoes up in the Vietnamese and Laotian highlands. Clinton was clever enough to listen to them. In the Balkans, Clinton asked for viable options and got them. We’re still there and the Serbs and Croats and Kosovars hate each other just as much as ever.

      Obama is not an idiot, however much his enemies might read into his actions or lack thereof. The country has endured a gutful of stupid wars and will not fight another, not without a direct threat to US interests, of which there are none in Syria. If Obama took his brief for intervention in Syria to Congress and Congress wouldn’t have any more War Sauce on their morning pancakes, what is that to VDH, that old fraud and rah-rah huckster for the Iraq War.

      May I add in passing, VDH is a wretched classicist. I have often said the hallmark of the bad historian is that he views the past through the eyes of the present. Virginia Woolf, a fine scholar of Greek, wrote in her essay “On Not Knowing Greek”

      Further, in reckoning the doubts and difficulties there is this important problem — Where are we to laugh in reading Greek? There is a passage in the Odyssey where laughter begins to steal upon us, but if Homer were looking we should probably think it better to control our merriment. To laugh instantly it is almost necessary (though Aristophanes may supply us with an exception) to laugh in English. Humour, after all, is closely bound up with a sense of the body. When we laugh at the humour of Wycherley, we are laughing with the body of that burly rustic who was our common ancestor on the village green. The French, the Italians, the Americans, who derive physically from so different a stock, pause, as we pause in reading Homer, to make sure that they are laughing in the right place, and the pause is fatal. Thus humour is the first of the gifts to perish in a foreign tongue, and when we turn from Greek to English literature it seems, after a long silence, as if our great age were ushered in by a burst of laughter.

      These are all difficulties, sources of misunderstanding, of distorted and romantic, of servile and snobbish passion. Yet even for the unlearned some certainties remain. Greek is the impersonal literature; it is also the literature of masterpieces. There are no schools; no forerunners; no heirs. We cannot trace a gradual process working in many men imperfectly until it expresses itself adequately at last in one.

      I despise Victor Davis Hansen. A man who never soldiered, telling us of war, a vastly imperfect scholar of Greek, telling us of Thucydides. Words and Deeds are not enough for this man but he will also give us Opinions, too, the feeble grifter. I would call him a pedant but pedants at least can translate.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
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      says:

      Well, Obama drew two red lines, one for Iranian enrichment (or making a bomb, or maybe detonating a bomb, or maybe nuking its regional rivals, or nuking Israel, or maybe for nuking Europe) and one for Syria transporting or using chemical weapons. The red line in Syria was blatantly crossed, so Obama tried to disown responsibility for drawing it, and then ended up approving a diplomatic path that will probably end with Assad having dinner in the White House as our new regional peace partner. The implications are not lost on the Iranians.

      Indeed, in a draft of a recent speech Obama was going to say:

      Well, let me be clear. My goals in Syria are manifest, and involve establishing the principle that the use of chemical weapons against civilians won’t be tolerated, and that any regime that does so risks strong rebuke by the international community, backed by a variety of diplomatic tools we can bring to bear, including the empty threat of force. As we comply with Assad’s demands, we’re teaching by example that he must comply with our demands, if and when we make them. He can be under no illusions that we mean what we say, even when we’re not sure what we just said, and when the international community draws a red line, no one, not even me, should cross it.

      That is why, to avoid crossing the red line of responding militarily to the use of chemical weapons, I have accepted the Russian proposal to instead pursue a diplomatic course that will see Assad’s regime stripped of their chemical weapons capability but reinforced with Russian equipment and personnel under UN auspices. But make no mistake. If Assad fails to comply with the provisions of the agreement, I reserve the right to threaten to strike targets occupied by all the UN observers and security forces I’d sent in, before I realize how stupid that sounds.

      Let me also reassure the American public and the world community that we have set very strict guidelines for compliance, including firm deadlines on the destruction of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons in a highly complex big government engineering program, run by foreigners, and overseen by cadres of the international community’s best poly sci graduates. Failure is not an option, which is why it will take as long as it takes, or we’ll threaten to alternately increase or decrease spending on it, as the situation requires, unless the Russians veto it.

      We have also insisted on frequent progress reports, and my future actions will be based entirely on what the UN committee’s intern writes up, based on the findings of the committee chair, based on what his lawyer relayed about what the inspectors heard from the Russian engineers.

      Make no mistake, I will act forcefully if the Assad regime drags their heels, creating stumbling blocks like not having fresh towels at the hotels where the UN inspection teams will be living for years, starting families, and becoming part of everyday Syrian life. Meanwhile, I’ve signed an executive order permitting myself to send weapons to the rebels, who will shoot at those hotels, interrupting towel service to remind the inspectors not to get too comfortable in their cushy UN shovel-ready jobs.

      Some critics have said our Syria policy doesn’t make sense, but our policy is the result of a well-considered, multifaceted, multidimensional approach, combining pointless threats, diplomatic incompetence, confusion about our goals, indecision about which side of the civil war should win, uncertainty about who should lead Syria in the future, and questions about whether the US should have any role in the region at all. These questions are complex, and so are our answers. So where others see confusion, I see sophistication, and it’s sophistry to claim otherwise.

      Our goals in Syria are clear, and this exceptional nation will achieve them.

      Thank you.

      Fortunately somebody stopped Obama from delivering that one.

      What Iran can do is trade the illusion for progress on the nuclear issue for a free hand to act regionally, along with major concessions on sanctions, while rehabilitating their international image from obstinate and dangerous troublemakers to helpful and genuine partners who can play a positive role in the region. Fortunately, nobody but Obama will buy it.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        George,

        Thank you, I had not heard of that proposed speech before, but it’s just like Obama to say something so stupid and America-shaming. No doubt he did his best to hide it from the public just as he hid his birth certificate. It’s just like him to stupidly complain that the Syria situation is complex. As you and I both know, it’s blindingly simple, and a real president would have solved it by now.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, it’s perhaps unfortunate that Obama went ahead and delivered the speeches he actually made, like the nationally televised “Oh, just ignore everything I’ve been saying” speech, instead of a short, pithy one that showed some self-understanding.

        The Iranian president’s recent Washington Post column was pressing lots of liberal buttons, using phrases like “We must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart.” He’s taking a page from Putin’s NY Times op-ed where Putin skilfully employed liberal platitudes to undermine Obama’s position – and do donuts in Obama’s front yard.

        One of the recurring failings of the current administration is that they were taught to seize a crisis and exploit it as an opportunity without first figuring out if there was an opportunity to seize, whether they have a coherent way to connect the crisis to a solution, and whether a bitter rival actually has a solution to the crisis they’ve whipped up, and whether that solution would completely undermine their agenda.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        Putin observes America is a monkey with a hand grenade, and he should know. Putin’s monkey is armed with gas munitions and now Putin the Zookeeper is arranging to take them away.

        Obama can do nothing right, that much seems obvious. Were we to listen to these Neoconservative Meth Heads, we should now be waist deep in yet another Eye-Racky type clusterfuck and the dark parade of hearses would be lined up in the dark at Dover AFB, waiting for the evil shipments from the Factory of Foreign War.

        Iran lost over half a million men in its war with Iraq, a war fought over seven years, a senseless, stupid war America provoked and funded, conniving with men every bit as evil as Assad and worse. That Rouhani, who endured such a tragedy, is willing to extend his hand to the West, is the height of nobility and decency, not that such as you will ever see it as such.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        it’s perhaps unfortunate that Obama went ahead and delivered the speeches he actually made, … instead of a short, pithy one that showed some self-understanding

        I know! He should have learned from Reagan and W. the importance of speeches demonstrating self-understanding, but he’s nowhere near as smart as those two guys.

        One of the recurring failings of the current administration is that they were taught to seize a crisis and exploit it as an opportunity without first figuring out if there was an opportunity to seize,

        Amen, brother. Obama’s such a fool. If only he had learned from W. that you don’t need a crisis to create an opportunity for invasion he wouldn’t be screwing around with stupid diplomatic niceties this way and we’d already have some real American boots on the ground!Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        George’s willingness to serve as a prime example of what is wrong with our partisan political process is quite noble, I think. “Obama is threatening to attack Syria? We absolutely should not invade Syria! Wait, now Obama is working out a diplomatic solution? We absolutely should have invaded Syria since we said we were going to! Now we look weak.”

        This is the first time that I recall us ever getting this close to military action and then not acting militarily. This is a good thing, and people like George are doing their best to make it significantly less likely that administrations will repeat it in the future. I can’t tell for sure if that’s their goal or not.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        @blaisep

        Iran lost over half a million men in its war with Iraq, a war fought over seven years, a senseless, stupid war America provoked and funded

        Okay, I give up. How did we provoke an anti-American Soviet client state into declaring war on the country that had just held our entire embassy hostage, and where in the US budget was the funding for keeping it going for ten years?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        I’m not here to teach history and certainly not willing to do your fucking homework, George. Ask your hero Donald Rumsfeld why he was over there shaking Saddam’s hand and why the USA restored full diplomatic relations in 1984, or came to Saddam’s rescue in the UN (with the useful idiots and toadies the UK ) when Saddam fired poison gas.

        Ever and anon, I develop a sort of nausea, a deep, cold anomie when I consider America’s role in both Iraq and Iran. The dead hand of American interventionism pushed the boulder which set in motion the most terrible rock slide in modern geopolitics. And people wonder why all those Muslims hate us… it boggles the mind, to consider the scope and magnitude of American treachery and connivance with dictators and murderers of every description. We just don’t learn. Well, you don’t learn. And there’s no teaching you.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        George is right. Giving billions of dollars in aid, doing special ops training, and allowing Hughes aircraft to ship helicopters to Iraq doesn’t show how the U.S. government supported Iraq for ten years in its seven year war with Iran. So how can you say we aided Iraq?Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        Donald Rumsfeld didn’t work for Jimmy Carter, and obviously it was Jimmy Carter who got Saddam to start the Iran/Iraq war.

        And yes, we let them get some Hughes helicopters, and to make that look significant you have to count the 30 Hughes 300’s, a tiny two-seat piston-engined helicopter normally used as a traffic copter by little AM radio stations in places like Iowa or Kansas. The other helicopters were a handful of the more expensive Hughes 500 that are normally used for hauling a complement of three tourists around in places like Hawaii. They’re not exactly war-winning weapons. Meanwhile the Soviets and French were sending them real helicopters, like the Mi-24 Hind.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        And giving Saddam a Sneaky Peek at Iran, all those glossy hi-rez satellite imagery, that doesn’t count, either, James. Kissinger said of the Iran-Iraq War: wouldn’t it be great if both sides lost?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        Keep moving the goalposts, George. No matter how many fact are thrown at you, just keep refining what counts as evidence.

        And don’t hesitate to be a weasel with the facts. The fact that the Defender helicopter is classified as a “multi-role military helicopter”? No problem, just redefine it as a traffic reporter’s helicopter, pretend nobody will notice, and ignore the damage to your reputation that results from such dishonesty.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Ecch, in light of recent excesses of rhetoric, I’m on a Be Good campaign these days. I don’t sense George is being purposely dishonest.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to George Turner
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      says:

      Victor David Hanson has even less credibility than the Heritage Foundatation; he’s a living argument for not majoring in the Classics.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Barry
        Ignored
        says:

        As U2 said about Helter Skelter and Charles Manson, it’s time to steal Thucydides back from the likes of VDH. The classics are great. And thanks to the Perseus Project, you can read them for yourself.

        The ancients still speak to us today. As with so many other (assumes toff Oxford accent) Clahssicks, if we can just get these hoary, vicious old pedants with their stupid interpretations to shut up, the original authors could be heard across the centuries.Report

  3. Avatar Shazbot8
    Ignored
    says:

    “We know he’s a liar, not to be trusted, up to his neck in state-sanctioned murder.”

    I thought this is what you guys keep saying about Obama, not Rouhani. It would describe Netanyahu even better than Obama and Rouhani.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot8
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      says:

      It’s apt, to notice everyone’s up to his neck in State Sanctioned Evil. This is why I continue to believe the nation state has become irrelevant. become not one whit different from the Terrorists against which we’re Makin’ War. These states lie to their citizens, lie to everyone else about their true intentions, which is the promulgation of their own rhetoric and the preservation and extension of their own powers.

      Every time the terrorists set off another bomb at a funeral, attack another shopping mall, put up another video (have you noticed how slick those jihaadi videos are getting these days?) they prove the irrelevance of the paradigm of the nation state. Bakunin, the prophet of modern anarchy, observed with every reaction to every such provocation, the state further alienates itself from its citizens. That’s their goal. George Washington urged the humane treatment of British prisoners, lest the nascent American state be seen as no better than its enemies.

      They’re all bastards, but they’re our bastards. Rouhani is trying to turn over a new leaf. Surely he’s operating in his own self-interest. That’s okay. They all do. At least we could recognise the gravity of his situation and let him do the right thing for his own nation. In reaching out to the West, he’s giving us the chance to be decent people. It’s in our own interests to be reconciled to Iran, too.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to BlaiseP
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        says:

        It’s pretty sad that we elected a leader so ruthless yet incompetent that you’re giving up on the entire idea of the nation state.

        Bazinga. ^_^

        If Rouhani was trying to turn over a new leaf, he’d give up Iran’s centrifuges or switch to CANDU reactors that don’t require enrichment and perform wonderfully. He’s not going to do that, he’s going to smile and shake hands and buy all the time he needs to build a nuclear arsenal, because he’s just realized that the US administration can’t win the support of Republicans for limited strikes on anything without achievable objectives, and it can’t convince Democrats to support military action as long as there’s any kind of face-saving diplomatic action, even one that completely undermines US strategic goals.

        Iran’s obvious goal is to build a nuclear deterrent so the West can’t touch them, while enabling them to project overwhelming power throughout the region, including the entire Persian Gulf. At that point Iran will feel not only safe, but consider itself a regional if not a world superpower in league with ancient Persia. Keeping the US administration befuddled and jabbering about Iran’s new turn at cocktail parties will achieve those aims.

        A perhaps more disturbing development is that up to 50,000 Persian soldiers have just been found in the Egyptian desert, complete with all their armor and weapons. Re-animated (they died in a sandstorm in 525 BC) and equipped with more modern weapons, they could give Iran a potent new force that could assure an Assad victory in Syria or even topple the Egyptian military government.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to BlaiseP
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        says:

        giving up on the entire idea of the nation state.

        Can you define a nation-state and explain when and why the concept became prominent, and what are some of the problems with the concept?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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        says:

        The nation state was a great idea. So was the Roman Empire. See, George, to make such entities work, people have to believe in them. I’ve concluded since the invention of the aircraft and the rocket and especially the telephone and the Internet, national borders are increasingly irrelevant and the entities which back them equally so.

        Oh, the nation state will go on for a few more centuries, making excuses for itself. But like the Chinese peasant says of chaos, “Heaven is too high and the Emperor too far away.” The success of globalism is also seen in the rise of the terrorist as the agent of change, as the bandits of China made the Manchu irrelevant.

        Why should Iran give up its centrifuges? American can’t even give up its own stockpiles of chemical weapons. Upon whose say-so would America do anything? We like to go to the UN for a Permission Slip to wage our wars but we won’t be bound by the rulings of any international court for war crimes. As such, we’re just as much a pariah state as Iran or DPRK in the eyes of the world, eyes now narrowed with disgust. We will join all the other empires of history, like your Persian soldiers, in the deserts of history and the grey mountains of the Hindu Kush. I have stood in those mountains west of Peshawar and seen the wreckage of three such empires upon the same few hectares of mountainside: every empire since Alexander has left its rusting junk upon them, burned out Russian tanks, British Lee Enfield 303 cartridges, a wagon wheel probably going back to the Mughal era. If I looked carefully enough, I could have found Greek and Persian stuff. The shit is everywhere. Everyone marched thorough those passes.

        And now, American 5.57 NATO rounds and depleted uranium from the Warthogs. Make it easy for the archaeologists of the future, no need for a metal detector. Just use a friggin’ Geiger Counter.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to BlaiseP
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        says:

        The nation state will continue because nation state governments are filled with people who depend on the tax revenue nation states bring in, and they can retain power by redistributing that revenue. It may become obsolete as a social structure, but as a business model it’s better than anything the mafia can come up with.

        BTW, a Geiger counter can’t find DU projectiles unless they’re laying open on the surface and you get very close to them. DU is an alpha-emitter and the radiation is completely shielded by a piece of paper, a blade of grass, or a thin layer of dust. That’s why we don’t worry about the many pounds of uranium we all have in our yard’s topsoil. That’s also why it’s useless as a dirty bomb, unless it’s dispersed as a thick enough aerosol to present a choking hazard. Plutonium would work better, since it’s a pretty toxic metal, but it’s also just a long half-life alpha emitter.

        There are only two ways to make an effective radiological dirty bomb. One is to set off a nuke to convert all the benign uranium and plutonium atoms into extremely nasty short half-life daughter elements, and the other is to use robots to put enough short half-life elements into a giant lead container that can protect the delivery guy from incredibly lethal radiation doses (worse than standing inside a nuclear reactor running at full power).

        The problem with making a dirty bomb is that it is a bomb that’s effectively already gone off (it’s already emitting its full load of radiation long prior to detonation, when its being assembled and transported), and setting it off just decreases the lethality of the radiation through dispersal and dilution. A small one can cause the need for a cleanup, but a big one just kills the idiots who try to assemble it.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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        says:

        US Army training film. Stop making dumb noises and be thus instructed.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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        says:

        I don’t see the Nation State working out in the long haul. Increasingly, people are questioning its relevance. All the answers we’re getting in reply are tautologies. Sounds too much like theology of the more brittle sort, the last gasp of authority lacking mandate. The Arab Spring is only one manifestation of this phenomenon, several, if you consider it carefully. These states can’t fulfill their end of the contract, security, consistency of the rule of law, the administration of the common good.

        And they just cost too much. Nation states wage expensive wars where they might have made alliances among their merchants, become interlocking empires of trade, invested in their people, protected the weak and infirm from the strong and rapacious, encouraged the hesitant voice of reason, tolerated dissent, done for us what we cannot do for ourselves. People are social animals. They will tolerate a surprising degree of tyranny if they are thereby given security and prosperity, if the hungry are fed and the mentally ill are treated with decency, if children are educated, vaccinated and given safe water to drink and a toilet to shit in.

        The nation state has broken the social compact: the nation state has given us the perhaps-excusable Curse of Tyranny but will not give us security or the Blessings of Liberty, to which end it was established. It now struggles for relevance in a world which has largely passed it by. Its reasons for existence have withered. .Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to BlaiseP
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        says:

        I watched that, and it said that DU presents a minor heavy metal toxicity problem (just like lead), and so you should avoid eating a lot of it. You can’t avoid eating a little of it because it’s normally present in food and water, being an extremely abundant element in its more dangerous natural form. I slept on a bunch of it last night, thankfully shielded from the dangerous radiation by my sleeping bag and epidermis. That’s why the training video said, in big bold letters, “Depleted Uranium does not present an immediate hazard.”

        We use DU for radiation protection, and as armor in fighting vehicles that already have DU rounds rattling around inside with the crew. We also use large amounts of it on commercial airliners built by Boeing and other manufacturers. Nuclear physicists use big ingots of it as doorstops in their offices. Alpha emitters with a 4.4 billion year half-life are not dangerous sources of radioactivity.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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        says:

        George, I put up the video. I stand by its conclusions*. Sprinkle your DU Foo Foo Dust elsewhere. Dragging in that wretched old Victor Davis Hansen, your excuses for America’s playing with fire in Iraq and Iran, your endless repetition of these long disproved Neocon memes, it’s like watching some Cargo Cult savage with a bone in his nose sitting in the pilot’s seat of a rusting C-47 bomber in the jungles of New Guinea.

        You don’t like how Obama’s handling this situation? You don’t like my analysis of Rouhani? I spent half a day trying to sum this up and another half-day checking my facts. I didn’t write it so you could spout off these rusty old nostrums. Were they your own, I might find them more interesting. But they’re not. They’re old VDH, the most irritating pedant still pissing ink these days. Take it from an irritating pedant, yours truly, much given to quoting his betters, find someone worth quoting. VDH isn’t.

        * not the Chimpy McBush crap, mind you. Hated all that crap at the time, hate it worse now. But the US Army film is sound enough.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to BlaiseP
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        says:

        The nation state will continue because nation state governments are filled with people who depend on the tax revenue nation states bring in, and they can retain power by redistributing that revenue.

        This doesn’t distinguish between “states” and “nation-states.” The difference is pretty important if you want to talk about the continuation of the concept.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Shazbot8
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      says:

      Oh, good. I was worried that we’d be talking about something without someone bringing up Israel.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        Well, I brought Israel first, possibly because Israel is very much involved in this particular issue and is very strongly interested.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        Dr. Kane served in the Israeli military. I put that link to her bio and sorta braced for some “oh you’re just taking the Israeli point of view” slagging. Israel’s been sounding the alarm about Iran for years now.

        Maybe I’m just projecting a bit here. Still, I conclude Israel is relieved to see Rouhani at the helm in Iran. They understand him very well. They know what sort of bastard he is. They’re under no illusions. But he’s such an improvement over the previous bastards, he really is.

        Unlike that witless, impolitic, scruffy little mongrel Ahmedinejad, Rouhani has some class. Better manners. Sure, he’s aiming for a full fuel cycle. Israel has some Hypocrisy Problems of its own on the Nuclear Issue, everyone knows Israel has nukes and the US won’t make them play by the rules of IAEA.

        So Israel, or at least the cleverer and more sanguine Israelis, are probably feeling around for some avenue of dialogue with Rouhani. At least you know where you stand with such a guy. You can ask “What do you what?” knowing he’ll answer that question to your satisfaction.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        Ahmadinejad would have been a great fit for the Tea Party.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        The comparison between the Tea Parties and the Ahmedinejad Crowd are rather good, though it’s a bit of a stretch.

        To understand Ahmedinejad in context, we must look at his closest advisor, Esfandiar Mashaei. Though he bills himself as a thoroughgoing secularist, Mashaei is part of a rabidly messianic cult of the Mehdi, as is Dinner Jacket. Like the Tea Partiers, this cult preaches a wonderfully universalist vision, to the point of saying kind things about Israel and even the Great Satan, the USA. It’s all so bizarre, even the mullahs of Qom, no strangers to Crazy Talk, found it intolerable.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        Isn’t that like comparing angry PETA activists to angry men at an illegal cock fight?

        The Tea Party wanted less intrusive government and lower taxes. Ahmedinejad wanted an expansive state, intrusion into the lives of all Iranian citizens (none of whom are homosexuals, btw), and terrorist revolution.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        It’s hard to describe just how crazy it all sounds, in context. Have you ever heard some extreme American Protestant harangue on the subject of Israel and the return of the Messiah and Armageddon? Much the same from the cult of the Mehdi. Only worse.

        Rouhani reaches out to the USA and the West. Everyone’s astonished. Let’s stipulate to nobody who reads this comment advocates for the annihilation of Israel. We might criticise Israeli policies, likewise we might be a bit suspicious of Rouhani’s good intentions. But Mashaei is just creepy, a terrible influence on Ahmedinejad, a bit of a Rasputin or a Cheney in the worst sense of his malignant weirdness. Israel doesn’t need compliments of that sort, the USA either.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        Oh, I just meant as regards his idiotic ranting about some evil power that needs to be destroyed, while giving no evidence that they understand how the world works or the strategic impact of their words. Clueless fucking idiots can be left or right, religious or secular, pro or anti-government. Just like both PETA types and cockfighters are clueless fucking idiots.Report

  4. Avatar DBrown
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    says:

    When you say ” … because Israel is very much involved in this particular issue and is very strongly interested.” I have to laugh – Israel does have an interest but it can only become ‘involved’ if we act as its hand puppet. Israel doesn’t have the military might to do anything to Iran that could do more than annoy that country – unless Israel uses its nuclear weapons … . Wonder why the Iranians want nuclear power?

    As for the teabaggers, they want all the government aid/money they can get in the form of Medicare, social security benefits, and VA benefits (see, they earned them unlike those ‘others’: even if these teabaggers receive far, far more than they ever put in.) They also just want all the taxes lowered for themselves. All the benefits can be paid for by taking from those that don’t deserve any benefits like the Nig ,,,clang … I mean, black people (who, by the way, are most likely the one segment that pays in far more than it gets out on average. Nice how that works out … .)

    Interesting how the Kock brothers are the main funding agents for the teabagger party – they, really need to control people stupid … I mean with identical interests: cut food stamps, medical care and other utter wastes that the billionaires don’t want to fund. Especially the EPA that causes such problems for the average teabagger … nice these people have so much in common with the 0.000001% of the population like the Kock brothers.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to DBrown
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      says:

      This is NOT going to degenerate into the usual tiresome Israel-is or Israel-does. And I don’t like the word Teabagger. I’ll either shut down comments or start deleting such comments outright. I gives a damn. It’s my post and I will crimp right down on dumbassery as it appears. I do so hope I’m making myself clear.Report

      • Avatar DBrown in reply to BlaiseP
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        says:

        First, sorry for offending you; since that term was created and used by that group I simply use their own name. That liberals pointed out their error (while laughing) does not change that they created that term and applied it to themselves.

        Your post and your rules; so feel free to delete my post with that term.

        As for Israel – neither you or anyone else can stop discusions when the subject of Iran and US relations are posted. That is very much the part of any discusion and it would be both dishonest and wrong to ignore that subject.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to BlaiseP
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        says:

        And I don’t like the word Teabagger.

        Let’s just call them “Redskins”.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to DBrown
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      says:

      Dbrown, my own understanding is that Israel still has the capacity to set back Iran’s nuclear program via air strikes. They don’t have the capacity to set it back as far as the US does and they would assume much greater risk if they attempted to do so but they are very much involved independent of the US making them our puppet (and arguably the concern has recently been that it works the other way around). Heck, Obama was sweating bullets that Bibi was going to pull the trigger last year and that had nothing at all to do with nuclear weapons.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to North
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        says:

        Nobody seems to grasp how Iran and Israel’s governments both thrive by keeping everyone’s sphincter puckered so tight the vacuum thus created would suck in an Eames chair, whole and entire. Woo! Terrible ol’ Iran ! Trying to make a nuclear weapon ! Pay no attention to our nuclear arsenal or our unwillingness to submit to IAEA inspections. Don’t even talk about it or we’ll put you in prison and when we release you’ll we’ll gag you.

        Meanwhile, on the other side of the Tigris ‘n Euphrates, past Mess o’ Potamia, Iran’s turbaned knuckleheads scare the bejesus out of their own people, bringing in kids from the countryside, the basiji, as enforcers.

        After a while, you can’t go on being terrified. You run out of adrenaline and collapse. Life goes on. Neither Israel nor Iran can do a goddamn thing about each other. Wish they’d all just STFU and try to run their respective societies and stop the perennial assbiting and hollering. Childish bullshit, all of it.Report

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