Thursday, April 13, 2006

He Has Accomplished What He Set Out To Do

Divided on Iran
Poll: Majority say they’d support action against nuclear targets but don’t trust Bush to lead a military strike

Newsday Washington Bureau

April 13, 2006

WASHINGTON -- As a growing chorus of former generals criticizes the Iraq war and fresh questions emerge over flawed intelligence, a new poll shows that nearly half the U.S. public supports a possible military strike to stop Iran's nuclear program but most don't trust President George W. Bush to lead it.

The Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll suggests many Americans are worried about the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran. At the same time, a majority doubted Bush's ability to make the right decision about whether to go to war with Iran -- a reflection of the public's growing lack of confidence in Bush's leadership in national security, once his strongest suit.[...]

Nearly half of all respondents -- 48 percent -- say they would support taking military action against Iran if it continues to produce material that can be used for nuclear weapons. But the country appeared divided on the issue, as four in 10 oppose it.

The poll of 1,357 respondents was taken from April 8 to April 11 and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.
...which is to turn us into a bloodthirsty bunch of bullies.

See that "Recommended Reading" on the sidebar on the right? I recommended that series, the Foundation series, for a reason, in light of Iran: a country that achieves or attempts to achieve greatness through aggression is doomed to failure in the long run (or as Salvor Hardin said, "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." A saying dear to my heart.)

Military action against Iran must be an absolute last resort, contingent ONLY upon the detonation of a nuclear bomb, clearly traced to Iran without subterfuge, on US soil. For no other reason should an American soldier unilaterally set foot on Iranian soil (except for humanitarian reasons, of course). As Hardin would also be wont to say, "A nuclear bomb is a good weapon, but it can explode both ways."

So how to solve this dilemma? Well, let's take a careful look at the situation. First among all our handicaps (as noted in the article I cited) is our lack of credibility. Any action taken against Iran, whether it is diplomatic or economic, must have the support of at least Russia or China (don't underestimate the importance of China in this.) We are seen as bullies, but worse, we are seen as ineffectual bullies who can only sweep in and sweep out, and leave behind a bigger mess than we found. That perception may not be popular here in America ("Why don't you talk about the GOOD things happening in Iraq? Wah! Wah!") but it happens to be the truth and denial will serve no purpose here.

Our asset in this case is fairly decent relations with Russia, and tenuous-yet-friendly relations with China. As they are deeply involved in our North Korean imbroglio, it will be tough to ask them to assist us with Iran, but I think that's vital, and I think they may welcome the break from talking to Kim, who I imagine taxes them as much as us.

Our other handicap is Israel, but it's also an asset. Obviously, Israel has a lot at stake in this situation, as Iran's first target for any nuke would likely be Jerusalem (thus wiping out two problems with one stroke: Jews and Palestinians, who are viewed with much distrust and dislike in the Muslim world.) Understandably, their rhetoric has been strident and aggressive.

We have to smooth over some of that, but I'm not sure silencing Israel serves the best purpose here. We could use them as a surrogate for our invasion talk, allow them to take the heat for it, while we work a masterful diplomatic solution.

OK...I was joking about that last bit, because in fact, this situation is way over the heads of the Bush administration, and it's their own fault. Stay out of Iraq and Iran isn't a problem. We picked on Iraq because it was the weakest member of the "Axis of Evil," which showed us to be both bullies AND cowards (as most bullies are). It will take a new administration to handle this mess.

Clinton showed that enforcing international sanctions and proclamations worked well against Saddam: he was unable to further develop weapons of mass destruction, and further, his army became weakened and disheartened.

I would think that same strategy would work against Iran, but it may be too late.

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