Maybe American Democracy is Doomed

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53 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    We’ve had war mongers for a long time. It’s not like there is an entire party of war mongers trying to sabotage the negotions….Well okay, in any case the WaPo exsists to give voice to all the major centrist thoughts. War, Its good for everything is one of those thoughts.Report

  2. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    A common enough refrain, throughout all of American history. Not sure how it implies the doom of American Democracy.Report

    • Avatar Notme says:

      The doom is Saul’s typical hyperbole. The article make some good points. The obama admin seems ready to let iran get the bomb. Thats fine bc Israel will attack and we will drawn in.Report

  3. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    It is horrifying that anything so reckless and stupid would be considered worthy by the Post. What is it, 2003?Report

    • Avatar Notme says:

      God forbid anyone have a different interpretation of Obama’s action. That is horrifying.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        You can call Obama a gutless coward who’s also a ruthless dictator all you want. You can even keep insisting that the birth certificate is a forgery: really, knock yourself out.

        But. after our recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, writing that war with Iran is a good idea proves either that you’re a completely clueless moron or that you think everyone else is.Report

      • Avatar Notme says:

        Your first paragraph is so hyperbole laden, im not sure how to respond. If you read the article, you and saul would notice it says “best option” not good idea. There is a difference. The most basic issue is that you can only bargin with somone who can be trusted to keep the deal they agreed to. It isn’t clear that iran even meets this most basic requirement.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        It’s okay Mike.

        Notme has just been given one too many two-minute hates from FoxNews and Talkradio.

        How much did we spend on Iraq II? What did it accomplish? Do you like ISIS? How much of that money could have been put to good use elsewhere.Report

      • Avatar Notme says:


        It is sad that you cant or wont contribute a relevant comment to your own post.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        What makes Iran especially untrustworthy compared to other countries that the United States has signed treaties with (including the former Soviet Union)? The handwaving (it’s an Islamic State, thus the equivalent of Nazi Germany) is breathtakingly unconvincing. Surely he’d point to existing treaties that Iran has broken, if he could.Report

      • Avatar Notme says:


        Congtats, you can post with something more than hyperbole. I would would say that their constant violent rhetoric combined with their support for terrorism both directly and via proxies as well as the secretive nature of the program that they only admit the existance of when absolutely forced to as well as their claim that the secret facilities are for peaceful purposes. I hope you will notice that i never mentioned their religion.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Yeah, so let’s talk about broken promises…

        Like the one we made to Russia not to offer NATO membership to countries that border it…like Ukraine.

        Le’ts also talk about our constant “destabilization” of countries. Our overthrow of their elected leaders, etc. Would you like me to go on? The ONLY countries we don’t mess with much seem to be countries that have nukes. Hmm…can you connect the dots on why some countries might think having them would be a good idea? And let’s not forget that, should Iran choose to develop them, there’s no international agreement that they’ve signed preventing them.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        “The ONLY countries we don’t mess with much seem to be countries that have nukes”

        This is a canard (though it pops up often enough). We don’t mess with the UK and France because they are our BFFs, we don’t mess with China because they are our frenemy, we don’t mess with Pakistan because they are also our frenemy – and every so often, we do mess with Pakistan. We don’t mess with India because we don’t need to, same with Israel. We don’t mess with the DPRK because they have a conventional artillery force too numerous and too close to Seoul to neutralize before it would inflict massive damage. We didn’t mess with South Africa back in the day because of the same Cold War politics that makes us not mess (most of the time) with Pakistan.

        The only people with nukes that do constrain US policy and action are Russia’s. And that’s because they’re the only ones (besides the besties) that have C2 & delivery systems worth a darn.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        What makes Iran especially untrustworthy compared to other countries…

        There’s their refusal to put that whole thing about the UK and US overthrowing an elected government and installing the Shah behind us. How can you trust someone who holds onto a grudge like that?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Iran, of course, has always played by the rules of diplomatic nicety and probity.

        We installed two different puppet governments in Vietnam, a lot more recently and with a lot more bloodshed than in Iran, and the Vietnamese government doesn’t seem excessively sore about it anymore.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Between the rise of China as a regional power and the US losing interest in the Communists as the global boogie man, Vietnam can afford to put concern about previous US puppet governments behind it. Iran, as a likely regional power (absent outside interference) and representative of the current boogie man, not so much.Report

      • Avatar Creon Critic says:


        should Iran choose to develop them, there’s no international agreement that they’ve signed preventing them.

        Incorrect, as Iran signed at ratified the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1968/1970): “Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to[…] manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and not to seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” ( )

        In addition, there are the numerous UN Security Council resolutions, legally binding Chapter VII resolutions, that use the strongest language the Security Council can deploy (aside from “condemns”), here from Resolution No. 1696 from 2006 (emphasis in original): “Demands, in this context, that Iran shall suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the IAEA;”

        I happen to think the Obama administration is taking the right course, and the US and the international community (including the hawks in both) are correct to take very seriously the damage an Iranian nuclear weapon will do to the non-proliferation regime, the potential for a nuclear Middle East arms race, and the potential for new miscalculations, mistakes, and accidents with more states possessing nuclear weapons.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:


        Ok, they signed a treaty. So, if they’ve signed a treaty, they aren’t developing weapons, so why all the hubub? A treaty is an agreement. Oh, we think they are lying or maybe we’re accusing them for our own political benefit? I’ll vote for the latter. But even if they are planning to develop a nuke, they can simply withdraw from the treaty and do it.

        I’m not even going to address the security council resolutions. That’s made up of the west and eastern block, who manage to keep things just where they like…..their own way. The un is a joke.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:


        Perhaps I should have used “invade, occupy, overthrow leadership” instead of “mess with”?

        I don’t see us doing any of that to any nuclear power. And you don’t need sophisticated delivery methods to deliver a small nuke.Report

      • Avatar Creon Critic says:


        so why all the hubub?

        Signing a treaty and then cheating means they should expect to face consequences for that cheating, as they should not be permitted to simultaneously promise not to develop nuclear weapons and then secretly develop them. And certainly not with the benefits that come with being in the treaty (as the NPT envisages both carrots and sticks for nuclear and non-nuclear states for being a party) – specifically, access to materials that facilitate the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

        we think they are lying or maybe we’re accusing them for our own political benefit?

        Really? The P5+1 got together and decided to level accusations for the political benefit of such disparate actors as Russia and China on the one side, and UK, France, Germany, and US on the other side? To me, it seems like a testament to some practical thinking on the maintenance of international peace and security that even despite ongoing disagreements on Ukraine and Syria, the US and Russia still manage to agree that an Iranian bomb is not a positive development.

        I also think your analysis if awfully generous to Iran, why were they concealing an enrichment facility’s construction? why select a mountainside as its site? There’s not really a peaceful use of nuclear energy reason for Qom and its concealment by Iran – or the concealment (and heavy fortifications) at Natanz and Arak. Also, I only thinks this takes us so far in the discussion of what policy next, there is legitimately alarming rhetoric from the leadership of Iran on Israel.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:


        I’ll be interested in the “treaty cheating” when I see the UN push back against the US for violating the Geneva Conventions on Torture. Until I see that, my opinion of the UN has been “how many divisions do they have”?

        Why do we put our secret facilities in the nevada desert?Report

      • Avatar Creon Critic says:

        There are all sorts of things I’d want the international community to do better. Better enforcement for the international human rights regime, and certainly compliance on the part of the US, is on that list. But I don’t see how allowing laxity in the area of international arms control helps.

        “how many divisions do they have” – well, as many as the Security Council authorizes.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        The Security Council, an institution without any democratic legitimacy, thus going pretty far towards justifying Saul’s post title.Report

      • Avatar Creon Critic says:

        The US is one of the founding members of the UN, the Charter went through the processes required within our democracy for sure. Would that the world were all democracies, especially China and Russia. But given the aftermath of WWII, I think statesmen and diplomats did the best they could to shift the world order – even if not enough – from what came before. I’m not sure what more we could have gotten by way of concessions from Stalin than the ambiguities built into the UN Charter. Minimally, the UN and UNSC contributed to averting a WWIII – and famously acted as a backstop to diffuse some of the more difficult moments during the Cold War. And given the United States’ veto and the Supreme Court’s reticence about incorporating international law into US law without Congressional assent (Medellín v. Texas), I don’t see how the UNSC could possibly be a threat to US democracy.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        The UN has NO divisions, only what countries with troops are willing to lend. The SC can authorize 100 billion divisions and it wouldn’t matter. That’s why a lot of SC actions result in nothing. No one is actually willing to do anything…other than vote. The member states aren’t willing to do anything…or risk their troops on the action.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Why do we put our secret facilities in the nevada desert?

        I take your point, but to be accurate all we did in Nevada was after everyone knew we had nuclear weapons and involved the one part that couldn’t be hidden — detonation of test devices, which anyone with some sensitive seismographs can detect. Design and construction plus fabrication of materials was done all over — initially in Tennessee and New Mexico, then post-war at sites scattered all over the West (and South Carolina). None of the post-war sites was particularly secret. Everyone knew where they were and what was done there. Living now about 18 miles from one of those sites, what wasn’t known was just how sloppy the federal government was about handling the assorted nasty things.Report

      • Avatar Creon Critic says:

        That’s why a lot of SC actions result in nothing.

        The peacekeeping mandate reauthorization calendar begs to differ.

        And just to rope in a school of international relations thought that I’m partial to, in diplomacy legitimacy is a really important currency. Everyone wants to be the good guy, even the bad guys (sovereigns anyway). The UNSC has the only golden seal for use of force (self defense claims aside), and that certainly can help shape the dynamic of a crisis, or of negotiations before/during/after a crisis.

        And look, it isn’t that your critique of the UN is baseless, there are plenty of deadlocks (Syria, Israel-Palestine, etc.) and just plain awful situations that the UN has failed to react to, but I think there’s an all or nothing element to your comment that jumps out at me.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        put yer money where your mouth is, kiddo.
        I always do.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        I couldn’t access the site referenced, although it’s my perception that the middling and small things get address and the bigger issues don’t. You mentioned Syria / Palestine. We can add Ukraine, several of the African problems and, I’m sure, more if I think about it–and maybe Rwanda. But again, “just plain awful situations that the UN has failed to react to, but I think there’s an all or nothing element to your comment that jumps out at me.” I’ll agree to that. If you have an international body determine to “do right” and they constantly fail and lots of stuff their mandate is supposed to cover, then I have to ask about it’s usefulness. I’ll refrain even talking about the hilarity of having despots on the committees for human rights.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      For the record, each of those is covered by the AUMF. So even if, in theory, they did count, it’d be Bush’s fault.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        For the record, only Pakistan, Yemen, and Phil are under the 2001 AUMF. Kony had its own congressional authorization. The administration used its inherent authority and a UN resolution to legally justify Odyssey Dawn. Nigeria and Mexico are (afaict) part of the generic implied multilateral partner mission authority granted to all geographic COCOMs.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I’m also somewhat inclined to give a rant about the Khorasan Group.

        Perhaps if I were in a better mood, I’d be able to throw something together about how Obama defeated this entity that was as much of a threat as ISIS and, now, you never even hear about them anymore.Report

  4. Avatar Kolohe says:

    A single op-ed from a professional troll who has had a one track mind for at least 8 years is not really indicative of anything.Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    War with Iran would be disastrous. At the same time, negotiating with Iran is an exercise in futility because many parts of Iranian leadership are not trust worthy. The hardliners are basically in control through the offices of the Supreme Leader, Guardian Council, and Assembly of Experts. This allows Iranian conservatives to override Iranian liberals when they so please.

    Israel has good reason not to trust Iran since many Iranian leaders have publicly stated over the years that they view the destruction of Israel has just and nothing else is good enough:

    Iran also probably planned and committed the attack on AIMA in Buenos Aires in 1994:

    • Avatar Creon Critic says:


      negotiating with Iran is an exercise in futility

      This neglects the usefulness on the P5+1 side of the negotiations. That’s a very important coalition to hold together, and the US having demonstrated that the recalcitrant party is Iran is important for whatever measures follow a potential breakdown in negotiations, whether that be additional sanctions and further isolation of Iran, or military action.

      Also, the fact that stringent sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place, minus Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as President of Iran, demonstrates the room for the pursuit of a possible diplomatic solution. At the very least, the United States’ negotiating partners want to explore that space before deciding what steps to take next (personally, I think it is wise of the US to explore that space as well).Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Israel has good reason not to trust Israel.Report

  6. Avatar Murali says:

    The lack of self awareness in the op-ed is astounding. From the original article.

    That, in fact, is probably the reality. Ideology is the raison d’etre of Iran’s regime, legitimating its rule and inspiring its leaders and their supporters. In this sense, it is akin to communist, fascist and Nazi regimes that set out to transform the world.

    Ideology is the raison d’etre of America’s regime, legitimating its rule and inspiring its leaders and their supporters[1]. It also, like Nazi, communist and fascist regimes seeks to spread American style democracy throughout the world.

    [1]In America’s case it is democratic republicanism. It might be a nicer ideology, but it is still an ideology which America seeks to spread. The failure of a given nation to adhere to that ideology is often pro-tanto reason for American leaders to make war on them (especially when neoconservatives are in charge).Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    One thing that some of the crazy people I’ve read have said has to do with Libya. Apparently, Bush made deals with Gadhafi that if he’d dis-arm, he’d be better off.

    He dis-armed, and then he was killed by the crowd. Getting rid of his weapons did him no good.

    When Bush treated Libya like this, why in the world should Iran believe Obama?Report

  8. Avatar Kolohe says:

    It cannot be said that Hillary Clinton is against war with Iran. She is against war with Iran *at this time*. Clinton has never been consistently against any war, going back to her time as a Goldwater girl. (her term).Report

    • Avatar North says:

      That is lamentably true. HC is unfortunately pretty hawkish.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      In a just world, the political careers of Democrats who voted for the Iraq War would have been over a decade ago. Perhaps this is the sign that American democracy is doomed: instead of having hawkish and dovish parties, we have a party that celebrates its hawkishness and a party that blushes a bit at its hawkishness.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        People are products of their time.

        HRC is a product of an era when women, to assume leadership positions in nations, had to be more hawkish than men; just as D’s had to be ‘tougher on crime’ than their R counterparts, else they were ‘soft.’

        Despite that, I agree. Of all the Iraq war votes, HRC’s and Kerry’s bothered me most; they both had access to information that suggested the knew the WMD arguments were bogus; HRC via Bill, Kerry via his committee seats.

        I’d like to argue we need to move beyond the boomers for national leadership. And then, I consider the likes of Tom Cotton, and I weep.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Democracy is doomed because Florida can’t even mention global warming in its official documents.

        When we retreat into delusions, we fail.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        If you look at the motivations behind HRC’s and JFK’s votes, they only voted the way they did because of a naked lust for power.

        This allows us to feel better about it because they’re *OUR* politicians.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        It’s odd to see you referring to Democratic Party politicians as “your” politicians Jay, I thought you were straight up libertarian party ticket?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        And the political careers of the “experts” who pushed for and sold that war would have been over as soon as it became clear what they’d done. Instead, they became Mitt’s foreign policy team, and now Jeb’s.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I’m still registered ‘D’ out of inertia. But, you’re right.

        I try to vote only for people whose pathologies manifest in ways other than naked lust for power.

        Like the guy who turned himself blue. He was committed to something else entirely.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I fall to my knees and pray that no one here will vote for Jeb Bush for anything ever.
        Politicians ought not to openly and brazenly break the law while running for office.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Virtually every major media service in the U.S.:

        Senior editor: “OK, a substantial portion of both our correspondents and our editorial staff has been either duped or revealed to be shills for the administration on the subject of the Iraq War. We need to get rid of them.”

        Other senior editor: “Sounds good, but before we fire most of our journalists, let’s find some people to replace them. Anybody who didn’t completely compromise their integrity on the subject? Anybody?”


        Intern (hesitating): ” I… er… You know… Well… We could grab some of the Reuters folks. They came out of that whole Iraq thing pretty well.”

        All editors (in unison): “You’re fired!”

        Senior editor: “Anybody else got any ideas? OK, we’ll just have to keep our existing staff. C’est la vie.”

        Other Senior editor: “Freedom fries.”Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Chris, I laughed – bleakly.Report