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59 responses to “Nelson beats the drums of war against Iran”

  1. TimT

    With the sad death of an Australian solider in Afghanistan, Brendan Nelson decided he too should get in on drumming up support for a strike on Iran.

    It actually was a little different in the press conference. A reporter was pressing Nelson on the question of the weapon’s origin, and asked whether it came from Iran. Nelson replied that the weapon’s exact origins were to be determined. I think the Age story linked looks like a bit of a beat up; they’re taking a quote of his out of context.

    The thing is, in the press conference, Nelson actually came across as quite cold, callous, and stupid – he appears to be treating the death of the soldier as some kind of harm minimisation issue. And when a reporter asked him how he personally felt on hearing of the death of the soldier, he glibly replied that he was proud of the job Australians were doing – (not bothering with expressions of regret or sorrow.)

    The Age appear to have passed this up in favour of a non-story.

  2. shishkin

    this has been in the pipeline for ages … you’d recall that about a year ago the US changed its commander in chief of operations in the middle-east arena to the current chief who is an admiral with loads experience with aircraft carriers (which seemed kinda weird considering there were 2 land based campaigns going on) – and around the same time there was some press about how israeli and the US had devised plans to take out iran’s nuclear capabilities with tactical strikes by mini-nukes launched from aircraft (from US aircraft carriers) – and just last week Jon Bolton (the stooge George W appointed as US ambassador to the UN) told us on the lateline program that it is all about oil (stoopid!!) and can you imagine just how uppity those iranians would be (re. oil) if they developed nuclear capabilities

    the way i see it, nelson’s just regurgitating white house common wisdom – its just like being in an exclusive club, except most of us are definitely not invited

  3. Paul Burns

    I have always been under the impression that the main reason we’re fighting the Taliban in Aghanistan is because they’re allies of Al-Qaeda. As I understand it Al-Qaeda’s political and war aims are:
    1. The destruction of moderate Islamic states, especially in the Middle East.
    2.The destruction of Shite Muslim states, notably Iraq and Iran.
    3.The removal of US from Saudi Arabia, the Muslim holy land, and from the Middle East in general, if necessary by attacks on the United States itself, eg. 9/11.
    I understand that this is the CIA’s assessment.
    Now, it seems to me ridiculous that a state like Iran, that Osama Ben Laden has specifically singled out for destruction, would contemplate helping the Taliban, which is an Al-Qaeda ally.
    (When I put this argument in our local paper, our local right wing troglodyte accused me of being a terrorist, which I am not.)
    But, back to my main argument.For, then again, stranger things have happened in war and diplomacy. Who can forget the Nazi-Soviet Pact.

  4. steve at the pub

    As I recall it, President I’minadinnerjacket of Iran can’t stop banging on about how Israel, a free democratic nation, must be wiped from the earth.

    So a few chickens come home to roost for dinnerjacket when some other countries start talking about making military strikes on his country.

    There person at fault, and talking aggressively, is president dinnerjacket.

  5. joe2

    In comes the ‘Bren Gun’, who could have neutralised the journalists question, easily, at a time of appropriate mourning. A chance for a minister to show one moment of statesmanship. Na, forget it.

    Instead, he seemed to give a war hungry journalist ammunition. The ABC, included, ran the story as ‘the search for the country that supplied the bomb’. I take your point TimT, but with politicized pompous crap like this, at the press conference, …

    “Every Australian should stop to reflect at some time through the course of today on what Australian soldiers are doing in our name, on our behalf, in Afghanistan and other parts of the world.”

    … he does not deserve the benefit of any doubt.

  6. The Worst of Perth

    Who knows the seat margins? Does this evil, turd of a man have a marginal seat? Wasn’t he also the one who wanted creationism back in schools. Enough!

  7. Razor

    TimT is on the money – it is the media who has spun Nelson’s words to imply Iranian involvement.

    Paul Burns – there is clear evidence that Iranian arms have been captured in Iraq and Afganistan. Iranian Special Forces from the Qods Force which specialises in supporting terrorist organisations have been captured in Iraq. Iran wants the West to suffer badly from trying to help Iraq and Afghanistan and they are quite prepared to support Al Queda, if it is prepared to accept that help, in both countries in order to achieve Iranian goals.

    I don’t particularly support a strike against Iranian Nuclear sites right now as the publicly available information does not appear to indicate they are close to weaponisation. But I wouldn’t be overly perturbed by such an event. Observing the zero response of Syria to the recent Israeli strike on a suspected NBC site is very interesting to say the least. Why has Syria been so publicly unconcerned????

    I do support any military operations against Iranian targets that are supporting terrorist activity in Iraq and Afghanistan (or Lebanon and Israel for that matter). It is time to make them pay a price for their destabilsation and support of terrorists.

  8. Robert Bollard

    The Taliban are a sectarian Sunni (Whabist) outfit. Why would the Iranians arm them? Similarly, the key Iranian allies amongst the Shi-ite leaders in Iraq are mostly collaborating with the US. Yet that hasn’t stopped various figures in Washington (on both sides of the party divide) from banging on about Iran’s alleged arming of the insurgents. Actually, it’s clear that most of the arms in the hands of the insurgents came from the Americans (albeit not directly). The hysteria regarding Iran would have to be the biggest smokescreen since the furphy about WMDs.

  9. Razor

    joe2 – Nelson doesn’t know where the weapon came from. Do you expcthim to rule out Iran immediately, despite the evidence that they are arming the Taliban?

  10. Watcher

    Razor, what evidence do you have that Shiite Iran are arming the Sunni fanatics of the Taliban? You are demonstrating the same clumsiness with the religious & political realities that Nelson did. You might want to take a look at Irfan Yousef’s article in today’s Crikey for the background to these two.

  11. Mark

    Razor, if you support military strikes against those contributing to the rise of Iranian influence, perhaps you’d agree that George W. Bush should declare war against himself?


    Iran was a vehement opponent of the Taliban regime when it was in power, I thought.

  12. Lefty E

    Of course, problem these days is no one trusts our intelligence agencies to tell us the truth.

    We get ‘politically correct’ info only.

    Anyway, try Pakistan for the source of weapons!

  13. Razor

    Watcher – trucks have been tracked and captured moving from Iran into Afghanistan loaded with weapons, including advanced anti-armour mines. What more evidence do you want? The signed invoices with “Received” stamped on them?

  14. Kevin Brady

    “As I recall it, President I’minadinnerjacket of Iran can’t stop banging on about how Israel, a free democratic nation, must be wiped from the earth.”

    In fact, this was a mistranslation of his comments. The media beat up on this is analysed here . As for Iran ‘destabilising Iraq’ – in fact the Iranian regime has made very strong links with the new government in Iraq. It is only ‘destabilising’ because the yanks don’t like ‘their’ Iraqi’s talking to Iran!!

    I did not hear what Nelson said, but I understand that the Chief of the ADF will not support the idea that the IED came from Iran at this stage.

  15. Chav

    There is still plenty of time through diplomacy, inspections and judicious use of sanctions to counter a nuclear Iran.

    Why a nuclear Iran has to be countered is a mystery. Me, I’d be more worried about the US and nuclear weapons, I mean, they do have previous form.

  16. David Rubie

    Razor wrote:

    What more evidence do you want? The signed invoices with â??Receivedâ?? stamped on them?

    Sh*tloads more. Not just made up garbage like last time. I won’t believe it until the perps are on Rove Live with their home video of the whole transport operation.

  17. Bismarck

    Iran was a vehement opponent of the Taliban regime when it was in power, I thought.

    I thought Paul Burns answered this (and himself) above. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. His example was the Nazi-Soviet pact. I wonder if Hitler, a couple of years after that particular masterstroke, thought: “Churchill and Roosevelt hate Stalin. I’ll be right.” In fact he did think something very much along those lines.

  18. Katz

    Maybe our RWDB interlocutors, who have never seen a smashed up dusky corpse they didn’t like, should direct their bellicose energies whipping up war fever against this nifty little weapon kindly supplied to Middle Easterners by the Russians.

  19. Rod

    Razor on 9 October 2007 at 2:19 pm
    Watcher – trucks have been tracked and captured moving from Iran into Afghanistan loaded with weapons, including advanced anti-armour mines. What more evidence do you want? The signed invoices with â??Receivedâ?? stamped on them?

    Well, yes, Razor, that would be useful. It is far more likely that any Iranian weaponry heading into Afghanistan would be destined for the one of the anti-Taliban Shia militia than to the Taliban or Al Quaeda. Finding a weapons shipment in transit means nothing in a place like Afghanistan. You have to have proof of who it was going to. So a receipt would, indeed, be handy! 😉

    Further, given the nonsense spouted about WMD’s and the like by senior western leaders before the Iraq invasion we just can’t take the statements of people like Nelson, or his US counterparts, about matters like this with anything more than a pinch of salt these days.

    Credibility, when it comes to security issues, wars in foreign lands, refugee issues and the like is simply something that our current government has completely blown as far as the vast majority of the public are concerned. Every time Nelson , or other government members, come out with this sort of stuff it simply reminds us all of the lies they’ve told us in the past.



  20. Chav

    Holy crap Katz!

    Talk about close-combat! How brave would you have to be to chuck one of those!?

  21. Razor

    They have actually physically tracked and captured them doing it:

    “The coalition analysis says munitions recovered in two Iranian convoys, on April 11 and May 3, had “clear indications that they originated in Iran. Some were identical to Iranian supplied goods previously discovered in Iraq.”

    The April convoy was tracked from Iran into Helmand province and led a fierce firefight that destroyed one vehicle, according to the official analysis. A second vehicle was reportedly found to contain small arms ammunition, mortar rounds and more than 650 pounds of C4 demolition charges.

    A second convoy of two vehicles was spotted on May 3 and led to the capture of five occupants and the seizure of RPG-7mm rockets and more than 1,000 pounds of C4, the analysis says.

    Also among the munitions are components for the lethal EFPs, or explosive formed projectiles, the roadside bombs that U.S. officials say Iran has provided to Iraqi insurgents with deadly results.”

    This isn’t just some intelligence analysis of second and third hand reports.

  22. Liam

    Holy crap Katz indeed. Reminds me of Orwell’s description of the Anarchist bombs in Spain: “impartial”.
    I wonder how many takes the terrorists shot with bomb-throwers vaporising themselves?

  23. Chav

    You know, I would be shocked and aghast at any Iranian gun-running into Afghanistan if, er, it wasn’t already under foreign occupation…

  24. Mercurius

    Yes Razor, and I bet there was an infidel-shredding machine in the back of the truck too.

    In other news, Vietnamese naval forces have attacked 2 destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin! Must! Invade! Now! WAKE! UP! AUSTRALIA!

  25. David Rubie

    Forget it Razor. We are not listening to the pants wetters that cried wolf. Grab a dummy or comforter of choice, or if needs be, insert thumb in gob instead.

  26. Leinad

    There will be no war with Iran. If there is, I will happily eat a hat of the LP Collective’s choice, cooked to their satisfaction.

  27. Chav

    Oh, I don’t know Liam…two or three grenades thrown at a moving tank sounds a little safer for the neighbours than airstrikes and cluster bombs…

  28. Rod

    They have actually physically tracked and captured them doing it:

    Razor, nothing is more likely than that Iran is supplying arms to factions in Afghanistan. Iran, after all, was one of the largest arms supplier to the arch enemies of the Taliban, the “Northern Alliance” , and to other anti-Taliban groups, prior to coalition invasion. The place, accordingly, is riddled with arms made in Iran (and the US, and China and the USSR and Britain and France) . It wouldn’t even surprise me, given the too and fro of warfare in Afghanistan, if the Taliban have even managed to get their hands on some of them in the course of the fighting.

    The question, though, is whether the Iranians are really supplying the Taliban. The source you quote (and everything else I’ve seen ANYWHERE in the media on this matter) provides precious little evidence to support such a view. All we get on this score are simply very broad statements, lacking in any detail, from US sabre rattlers, in other words from the same mob who gave us the “incontrovertible” evidence of WMD in Iraq. If they actually were supplying the Taliban they wouldn’t simply be rubbing it in the noses of the Yankees. They would be offending a friendly government with whom trade has skyrocketed in recent years, together with a wide range of Shia Afghani warlords whose alliance they value, and who would be useful to them in any real conflict with the US.

    Iranian arms deals to the Taliban or a US/Coalition beat-up by sabre rattlers wanting to add fuel to the fire in the fight with Iran? I know which answer seems more probable to me!

  29. Katz

    I wonder how many takes the terrorists shot with bomb-throwers vaporising themselves?

    These nifty little devices can be lobbed off roofs and terraces with almost certain impunity.

    The charge is shaped and directed downwards by the drag of the parachute.

    Simple and spectacular, a worthy successor to the AK-47 as Russia’s contribution to David in his struggle with Goliath in the theatre of asymetric war.

  30. anthony

    Missed this one closer to home

    Federal prosecutors are investigating whether employees of the private security firm Blackwater USA illegally smuggled into Iraq weapons that may have been sold on the black market and ended up in the hands of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, officials said Friday.


    And just for the nostalgia buffs: the drones of doom

  31. Resin dog

    I’ll see your drone of doom and raise you one of these little beauties…coming soon to an Iran near you!

  32. Resin dog

    I’ll see your so called drone of doom and raise you a shitload of
    little beauties.

    Coming soon to an Iranian nuclear facility near you!

  33. Resin dog

    I’ll see your so called drones of doom and raise you a shitload of

    little beauties.

    Coming soon to an Iranian nuclear facility near you!

  34. Resin dog

    I’ll see your so called drones of doom and raise you a shitload of
    these little beauties…

    Coming soon to an Iranian nukular facility near you!

  35. tigtog

    Please don’t resubmit your comment if it disappears, the spaminator will decide that you are a spammer. [Explanation]

  36. j_p_z

    “Simple and spectacular, a worthy successor to the AK-47 as Russia’s contribution to David in his struggle with Goliath in the theatre of asymetric war.”

    I’m just gonna quote that a few more times, sort of let it tumble through the air for a bit, so it can be clearly seen…

    “Simple and spectacular, a worthy successor to the AK-47 as Russia’s contribution to David in his struggle with Goliath in the theatre of asymetric war.”

    “Simple and spectacular, a worthy successor to the AK-47 as Russia’s contribution to David in his struggle with Goliath in the theatre of asymetric war.”

  37. Resin dog


  38. Leinad

    jpz: que?

  39. j_p_z

    Have to say, the level of discourse on this topic has been well below the normally excellent standards at LP. (For the record, I don’t support a strike against Iran, and think it would be a very impractical and counterproductive action.)

    Again and again, the question is asked here, “Why would the Shiite Iranians support the Taliban?” as though it proved something. But the question is fundamentally unserious. Either they’re doing it, or else they aren’t. And if they are, why, their reasons are their own. After only about four minutes of consideration, I can think of at least two very good reasons for Iran to arm the Taliban, right off the top of my head, and I’m not sitting in an underground planning room in Teheran, thinking about those sorts of things for eleven hours a day.

    If all be true that I do think,
    There are five reasons we should drink:
    Good wine, or friends, or being dry,
    Or lest we should be by and by,
    Or any other reason why.

  40. Liam

    Chav, “impartial” because it’s as dangerous to the thrower as to the target; certainly I wouldn’t throw an enormous armour-piercing bomb that was designed to slow itself down as it flew away from me.
    I think I’ve answered Katz, on that subject, as well.

  41. Shaun

    TimT, I haven’t seen any video of the press conference. The Smage this report Nelson as saying:

    There is no question that a variety of weapons, including improvised explosive devices and explosively formed projectiles and other things, are finding their [way] from Iran into both Iraq and Afghanistan

    Whether a reporter was leading Nelson, it does reflect a common talking point re the situation in Iraq/Afghanistan.

    Contrary to Razor’s comments, there is still no link to arms for the Taliban and Iran (apart from coming over the Iranian border). As pointed out in the OP and by Rod the link does seem tenuous and one could lay the same charge against the US. To do so would be foolish as it implies intent from the US to arm the insurgents. The point is there is likely a lot of deals going down for weapons and some will be diverted along the way.

    Btw, I don’t think there will be a full on war with Iran (and I’ll concede that I have been sloppy in my argument). I suspect the US will launch targeted strikes.

    j_p_z, please don’t complain about the quality of discourse when your cryptic post offers nothing. You state you have two good reasons why Iran would arm the Taliban. Care to elucidate what these reasons are and elevate the discourse you disdain?

  42. Leinad

    jpz: Quite right, but in general Iran brings out the worst in a lot of online commentators. Most of the analysis: “Iran’s going to attack us/Israel/the Welsh Rugby team sometime really soon!”, “Omg Secrit Israeli False-Flag In the Gulf!!” and the moderate, sensible “Iran’s arming the Taliban/Al-Qaida/Welsh Rugby team according to senior US sources (and nobody else)” lovingly stereotyped for the readers convience is spectacularly uninformed, content-free paranoia mostly written by people who — left, right and centre — don’t know their arse from their elbow when it comes to said country and are happy to apportion bizaare diabolical motivations to all and sundry to serve their particular hobbyhorse.

    Case in point: people who rave about the eeeeeeeeeeeevil Amadinejad. The guy’s a joke in his own country, the Iranian George Bush without the executive authority to lauch a firecracker, let alone a nuclear missile. The economy is tanking, his policies are ineffectual (whenever he can get them past the Majlis, the Expediency Council and the Council of Guardians, that is) and he’s getting flack from the moderates and hardliners alike. His anti-Israel, anti-US schtick is all the dude has left, and like Chavez’s posing it’s largely a matter of domestic appeal than international policy.

    Iran may be helping the insurgency or turning a blind eye to people who are but much of the stuff talked about ‘EFPs’ (what everyone else calls ‘shaped charges’) is hype. The technology behind them is sixty years old, and while expertise is needed in design they aren’t complicated to manufacture, being made of fairly simple components (that article is a good case in point: US forces found bomb components in Iraq, including alleded Iranian C4 and mortars as well as… tubes, pipes, plastic liners from all over the Arab world, probably purchased from factories or the open market. Doesn’t really make the case for ‘extremely complex machined parts that could only be made in Iran’ does it — wouldn’t they just be sending the finished product over, not the parts?) and guess what, they even found a factory in Iraq churning out the things.

  43. GregM

    j_p_z, please don’t complain about the quality of discourse

    Shaun, the problem is that the quality of posts here, especially by Katz, is so peurile that it mocks the word discourse. Don’t complain if j_p_z offers disdain. Be grateful that he hasn’t shown it outright contempt, for that is what it deserves.

  44. Shaun

    GregM, the same advice for you as to j_p_z. If you aren’t happy with the discourse help bring it to the standard you desire. There are some good comments from various perspectives, engage with those or mount a reasoned argument against the others.

  45. Shaun

    Leinad has hit the mark with his comments on Amadinejad. He had some issues with Iranian students the other day.

  46. Michael

    It’s funny to hear the hyperventilations over claims of Iranian weapons in Iraq when the majority of the weapons that have entered the country are stamped “Made in the USA”.

  47. Katz

    1. Some folks on this thread endorse war against Iran for possibly supplying weapons that kill Coalition soldiers.

    2. Other folks demonstrate quite conclusively that there are several means by which Iranian arms may find their way into the hands of forces who use them to kill Coalition soldiers.

    3. Still other folks suggest that US supplied weapons may have found their way into the hands of forces who use them to kill Coalition soldiers.

    4. I provide ocular evidence of Russian arms that have been specifically designed to kill Coalition soldiers. I then ask why the folks I mentioned in 1 above don’t appear to endorse war against Russia, which certainly has both designed and supplied a spectacularly effective counter-Coalition weapon.

    5. In response to others who expressed their shock at the Russian weapon I attempted to put it in its technological and military history context. For it is an undoubted truth that force multipliers in the 20th century have aided the military cause of the guerrilla/insurgent army more than the conventional army. This process began with the rifled musket of the American Revolutionary War. The use by the Mujahideen of the US-supplied Stinger missile against the Soviets in Afghanistan is another example. However, there is no doubt that the AK-47 is the most important example of this process. And perhaps the armor-piercing grenade in question will one day be seen as potent as the AK-47.

    If j_p_z and GregM don’t like what I have argued, then let them explain why.

  48. j_p_z

    Shaun — sorry if I sounded disdainful to you, certainly didn’t mean to (I’ve stated many times my high regard for LP). But the fact is, if one believes that people are pursuing a profitless line of thought, there isn’t really a 100% delicate way to apprise them of that. I thought my language wasn’t what you’d call rude. And I do believe that several lines of thought on this thread are well off-target. But I truly didn’t mean to sound insulting about it.

    The reason I didn’t state the actual cases where I think Iran could plausibly (but not inevitably) want to arm the Taliban is, it wasn’t strictly germane to the argument, I thought. To ask “why would they want to do that?” based on a slender outline of recent history while disregarding the situational changes is not proof or counter-proof of anything, and it struck me as almost self-evidently wrong-headed. Why does anyone do anything? If the Iranians have their own reasons that they haven’t bothered to explain to me, well that’s their own business. I’m not qualified to evaluate the evidence for or against, but the thing doesn’t strike me as beyond the pale of consideration.

    Look at the situation, which has changed a great deal since Iran initially disliked the Taliban in say 1997, when the T-guys were just a bunch of violent, negligible crackpots ruling over a few poppy-fields and a whole lot of rocks. But now it’s no longer 1997, and the US is fighting two wars in countries that both border Iran. If the US successfully develops client-states in both places, Iran will be flanked by the Great Satan on two critical sides. I can’t imagine they would be happy about that.

    For them to arm the Taliban wouldn’t mean that they actually want them to win. All they have to do, from an Iranian perspective, is annoy America perpetually, and keep the US from pacifying the country and then gaining control of that long Iranian border, from which the US could then of course endlessly send retaliatory cat’s-paws of its own into Iran if it wanted, since Iran is so fond of employing cat’s-paws themselves. Besides, it makes sense for a state like Iran to want to invest money in trying to kill Americans any way they can, since they believe that America’s perceived low tolerance for casualties might exceed its threshhold, leading to an American withdrawal. Win-win. Which is not to say that they necessarily have done these things, just that it’s silly to think they haven’t at least thought about it. And it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they did do them. And I think both Munich and the Tonkin Gulf should henceforth be included in a subsection of Godwin.

    Again, I don’t support a strike against Iran, and I’m not arguing for one; but when you see erstwhile smart people employing weird and faulty reasoning, it’s a public service to point it out.

    Katz — Your articulated argument above is duly noted; still, in my usage manual, the words “nifty,” “spectacular,” and “David in his struggle with Goliath” are rarely value-neutral, and a measure of directed applause is commonly felt to be implicit when they are deployed. A careful writer would assume this was the default understanding, and sift words more thoughtfully if they meant otherwise. Still, it’s a blog, and to save space people often compress their thoughts in ways that yield unexpected rhetorical effects.

    If that were all, I suppose you could still claim plausible deniability of what I read as your barely-suppressed glee, but I ask you to recall what a ‘prepared consonance’ is, from musical composition. Now here is your remark of 09/10/07 3:15 pm… “our RWDB interlocutors, who have never seen a smashed up dusky corpse they didn’t like…” which I find, well, let’s just use the word ‘regrettable’ and leave it at that. Sauce, gander, etc. etc.

    Have to say, though, you’d make a terrific Babyface Finster…

  49. Katz

    Have to say, though, you’d make a terrific Babyface Finster…

    Well, I must say I’m very gratified to see that you read my hurried words with such attention, and that you find my use of language so, shall we say, armour-piercing.

  50. yeti

    If supporting the Taliban is our criteria, then surely war against Pakistan should come before war against Iran.

  51. Razor

    yeti – the Pakistanis are fighting the Taliban within Pakistan in theor own particular way. it may not be the way we want them to do it, but they are doing it. They lost 15 soldiers yesterday in an ongoing operation.

  52. silkworm

    Leave Brendan alone. He is the only Minister honest enough to admit the reason for invading Iraq was for the oil. He is the only honest minister in the entire rotten Australian government. He is the only one entitled to lead the Liberals after their humiliating defeat at the elections.

  53. Ambigulous

    leave brendan alone – forsooth! we forgot about brendan and skeltered off into the wars on terrors: Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, USA, Russia, Israel, Syria. I’m confident brendan would rather we talked about those nations than his performance as Defence Minister.

  54. Razor

    Silkworm – Nelson did not admit that Iraq was liberated because of its oil. He did make the observation that the Iraqi Oil reserves are very important for the world economy which is one of the many reasons that make Iraq worth fighting for.

  55. j_p_z

    Katz: “…my hurried words…”

    Thus does the Finster Defense become known henceforth as the Katz Defense. 😉

    “…with such attention…”

    This was your idea of careful attention? Then maybe we’d better not open up that giant multinational electronics corporation we were kicking around, after all. Dr. Johnson had it wrong: when all else has failed, you can still accuse your opponent of being a nerd.

    FORTUNE: Consider a career as a blog commenter!

  56. Nabakov

    which is one of the many reasons that make Iraq worth fighting for.

    If the region’s main exports were only dates, nice rugs and copperware, racing camels and some spicy additions to world music on SBS, do you really reckon so much blood and treasure would have been expended and so much hubris and hate generated there over the past 90 years?

    As for attacking Iran, never mind the why, how about the how? I’m sure that the USAF/USN/NATO could still blow well targetted holes all over the joint despite utterly stretched land forces elsewhere in the region. But yer still left with 65 million seriously pissed off people from the land that invented chess, filling in the holes and vowing revenge. Taking down Iraq’s ruling oligarchy was playing checkers with a five year by comparison. And even that match has got bogged down in the middle game.

    Regaredless of the rights or wrongs of any geopolitic intervention these days, you can always count on one thing – the Bush Adminstration will always fuck it up. Those people can’t even find their underpants despite the fact they’re wearing them on their head.

    In today’s globalised, project-managed, internetted, business class world, compentence always trumps ideology.

  57. Tony D

    1. Iran is the regional super-power whether we like it or not (insert outraged comments by Israel supporters). Therefore, any attempt to ‘stabilize’ Iraq without Iranian support, or at least their non-opposition, is doomed to fail before it gets off the ground.

    2. The US is militarily and economically incapable of occupying Iran at this point.

    3. If the US invades/attacks Iran, Iran destabilizes and becomes another Iraq. Al-Qaeda has publicly and repeatedly stated that it wants this outcome.

    4. Iran knows all this. They have ‘Intelligence’ services too. This is why they are pushing the boundaries -> they know the US can’t do anything except diplomatically.

    5. Al-Qaeda knows this too.

    6. A-Q really, really, really wants the US to invade Iran. Hence, Iranian weapons are smuggled to places where they can be ‘found’, reported in the US media, and incite US domestic stupidity to the point where US policy makers have to be seen to do something. Add the usual war-zone mix of corruption, graft, skimming, etc and frankly I’m surprised that more of them aren’t floating around. Another lesson from the Afghan wars here: just cos the weapons are marked as having come from a particular place doesn’t mean anything. Remember the arms supply to the Mujahideen by CIA/ISI under Operation Cyclone (up until the stingers introduction anyway)? Plausible denial is the way to go in covert ops. Why would Iran send weapons that identify them as having come from Iran? Pointless & stupid.

    7. Iran is aware of all this as well.

    8. The Taliban and the Mujahideen fighters (that went on to become A-Q) were initially enemies – the talib (translates as ‘student’, from the islamic schools that were the only education provider in the Afghanni refugee camps during soviet occupation) that formed the Taliban were a resistance to the Mujahideen raping and pillaging their way across Afghanistan. It took US neglect and hypocrisies to make them friends. “My enemies enemy…” as j_p_z illustrates above.

    9. Post Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan… Well… where to begin…? If anyone in Oz could actually read it (you can’t, cos it’s banned these days, though Melb Uni has a copy I think), check out Abdullah Hassan’s works. “Why do they hate us” rthetorically asked George W, not really wanting an answer. “This is why” says Hassan. Perhaps at least an acknowledgment of the hurt we’ve done these people historically in our pursuit of winning the cold war might be a start… but it’ll never happen. The US counter terrorism policy is so funny in this respect – it completely misses the point and ignores the causes of terrorism and just seeks to apply a band-aid to those already radicalised and forgets that there are those who could still be radicalised… maybe by the harsh, authoritarian homeland security policies? You never know… A loss of soft power easily translates into a rise in radical, extremeist anti-americanism. And the A-Q’s of this world are the rallying point for these people, even if they disagree with the bulk of A-Q’s ideology. “My enemies enemy…” yet again.

    10. US attacks on Afghanistan cemented an alliance between the Taliban and A-Q (Important: Bin Laben swore allegiance to the Taliban, not the other way round).

    11. Neither US or Iranian political leaders (or most other counrties for that matter, eg: Andrews or Nelson) have grasped the fact that there is no such thing as a purely domestic political audience anymore. Sure they may target their speeches and rhetoric for domestic purposes, but they need to realise that, as the saying goes, “The World Is Watching(TM)” and will not interpret a politician’s comments through a domestic lens, but an international one.

    To quote Brzezinski: “What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”

    If your answer is the same as his – that defeating the soviets justified US policy in the region for the period… then, frankly, you got to accept that A-Q, the JI, the Taliban, etc, etc, etc, might be pissed at us for what we did to them in order to defeat the Evil Empire(TM).

    And now someone will no doubt again accuse me of knee-jerk anti-americanism…

  58. Katz

    Well argued, Tony D.

  59. pablo

    Tony D says it all I think, but I will add that Afghani president Karzhai recently implored the Taliban or specifically Mullah Omar (remember him?) to come into a coalition government. This suggests to me, assuming he is serious, that the foreigners fighting in Afghanistan are on a one way ticket to nowhere. It grieves me that Trooper Pearse lost his life in vain, in a cause that simply cannot be settled by guys running around in armoured trucks. It doesn’t matter how many schools, bridges or hospitals they build changing Afghani hearts and minds from the gun turret of a HumVee or APC ain’t gonna win anything.