I didn’t blog yesterday about Rudy Giuliani skipping out on the invitation to join the Iraq Study Group so he could spend more time coasting on his reputation and earning money because I figured I didn’t have anything of great analytic import to add to the story, but if the press is really ignoring the story as completely as Kevin Drum suggests, I figure I’d better throw my two cents in — this is the perfect example of how hollow Giuliani’s claim to be a national security candidate is. He doesn’t know anything about military policy or foreign policy and he doesn’t even care about these topics.
The current issue of Commentary magazine — “widely regarded as the leading outlet for neoconservative writing” — features a controversial cover story by Norman Podhoretz titled “The Case For Bombing Iran.”
Podhoretz’s article appeals to President Bush, “a man who knows evil when he sees it” and who has been “battered more mercilessly and with less justification than any other in living memory,” to carry out military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities. U.S. diplomats are now pointing to the essay to pressure foreign diplomats to increase pressure on Iran.
In a new interview, Podhoretz was asked to comment on the possible fallout of the military strikes he advocates. “Well, if we were to bomb the Iranians as I hope and pray we will,” Podhoretz says, “we’ll unleash a wave of anti-Americanism all over the world that will make the anti-Americanism we’ve experienced so far look like a lovefest.”
Watch it (6:20):
Podhoretz qualified his statement about anti-Americanism, saying it was only a “worst case scenario.” It’s “entirely possible,” he claimed, that “many countries, particularly in the Middle East” would “at least secretly applaud us.”
But even global anti-Americanism is worth it, he argues, to slow Iran’s nuclear program “for five or 10 years or more.” In fact, American Progress senior fellow Joseph Cirincione has argued that such a strike “would not, as is often said, delay the Iranian program. It would almost certainly speed it up. That is what happened when the Israelis struck at the Iraq program in 1981.”
Transcript: Read more
Today is World Refugee Day and for the first time in years the number of refugees is going up: “the dramatic increase is largely due to the war in Iraq, where an estimated 1.5 million people have been forced to find refuge in neighboring Jordan and Syria.”
The general decline in refugee population is a side-benefit of the underappreciated fact that the world became a much less war-torn place after the end of the Cold War. Media reporting tended to obscure this, but the absence of USA-USSR competition led to a sharp reduction in the funding stream available for the would-be prosecutors of proxy wars in the third world. There turn out, in short, to have been major humanitarian benefits to reduction in tensions between the major powers. More recently, by contrast, US-Iranian tensions are contributing to civil strife in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Territories (obviously, these conflicts have their own local roots and dynamics, but the US-Iranian conflict helps pour gasoline on the fire). And, of course, it’s at least possible that future decades will see US-China competition on a grand scale in a manner that would have very dire consequences for this sort of thing.
I have a Guardian item up about our reliance on airstrikes in counterinsurgency situations. Meanwhile, with regard to the new American offensive in Iraq, Robert Farley observes that we’re witnessing a return “to pointless and destructive sweep operations” that may represent a recognition within the command structure that the conditions in Iraq aren’t actually appropriate (in particular, we have neither the appropriate number of forces nor the appropriate sort of local ally) to conduct a textbook counterinsurgency — even according to the US Army’s brand new textbook.
As Farley says, these sweep “operations are emotionally satisfying, but by and large have never worked, and almost inevitably cause more damage than they prevent.”
I, like everyone in theory, want to accomplish Iran’s disarmament by peaceful means. And, although I’m not as convinced as Erza, I’m beginning to be persuaded by the case that a U.S.-led attack on Iran could have more dire consequences than a nuclear Iran. But I think it’s crazy to take the use of force off the table–and it’s unfair to accuse those who refuse to do so as warmongers, as Ezra does. Without the threat of force looming in the background, I don’t think the diplomatic approach has much of a prayer. Carrots, sticks, etc.
I fear there’s a risk of a looming consensus somewhere in this neighborhood, so it’s worth asking what the content of a preference for achieving “Iran’s disarmament” by peaceful means is, thus kicking off a long post on Iran:
Ezra Klein, talking about John Edwards’ speech, made reference to John Edwards’ “focus on humanitarian works as a centerpiece of foreign policy.” I’ve sniffed around this subject a bit, and I think it’s worth saying that this isn’t quite what Edwards is talking about. The thing on his website about “restoring America’s moral leadership” isn’t just a throwaway line; there’s a substantive idea there.