Thursday, April 20, 2006

# Posted 8:44 AM by Patrick Porter  

ON NOT KILLING EVERYONE IN IRAN: Oz pundit Tim Blair, whose posts are usually incisive, funny and persuasive, slipped a little today:

'The Guardian’s Timothy Garton Ash foresees Tehran-led suicide attacks throughout the west in retaliation for a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Better take out the whole country, then.'
Iran contains millions of people who want to be liberated from the butcher mullahs in Tehran. As a reflection of its widespread desire for greater political participation and freedom, it is one of the most vibrant blogging communities on earth. Its trade unionists, dissidents and human rights activists are persecuted for the same values that liberal democracies espouse. The dudes who live in my building fled the medieval theocracy. Quite simply, a war of annihilation (to 'take out the whole country') would murder these people and turn us into the kind of Hitlerian predators we claim to oppose.

Either Tim was joking, in which case a flippant call for genocide is in poor taste. Or he wasn't, and has bought into the primitive Coulter-Buchananite view of all Persians and Arabs as our enemies. It can't be said often enough: this is not a race war, it is a war to defend liberal society, and our allies are to be found in all countries.

(13) opinions -- Add your opinion

There is a school of thought which says we should let the Iranian government stew at home and take on its terrorist proxies around the world. A risky proposition because of the potential for violence.

However, if Iran could be isolated to the extent that it was unable to support its proxies the loss of face could be devastating at home.
Tim was clearly joking. The butt of the joke wasn't the Iranian people, but those in the west who are afraid to oppose terrorism because the terrorists may not go quietly into that good night.

It's a hyperbolic way of saying "your reasoning doesn't necessarily support your conclusions," because even if our only motivation is a cowardly attempt to avoid reprisals, there's more then one way to avoid reprisals.
If I paused a moment, I would have added one more clarifying sentence: Tim's post isn't any sort of support for genocide because he doesn't accept the premise that a major purpose of western society is the avoidance of reprisals by mass murderers.
In this age of mass electronic communication and information exchange, it is elistist and ruthless to even begin to cotton to the heinous notion of mass extermination. With much freer information access, it is almost unquestionable that oppressive regimes will contain within them dissidents, whether they be silent or not.

Hitlerian is the key word there, Porter. This engagement may be a defining moment of this century, even so early into it. It is the ultimate proverbial rock and hard place. The world economy could be thrown completely awry, in the face of Iran bottlenecking their oil. Alternately, should we, and/or our allies take the wrong path, it could set a precedent for, and create a perversion of, the future ethics under which we as a "liberal society" may operate.

Even sanctions, which will ultimately filter down and injure the innocent citizen, are a distasteful course. It's doubtful Iran would hinder their flow of oil in retaliation for sanctions, but the "free" world hinges too much on that gooey flow to take such chances. And where are we left? To bide our time and await a new kind of sleeping giant to awake?

No matter what the course, we cannot, conscionably, use a force that punishes all for the transgressions of a few.

'I made one great mistake in my life,' he said to Linus Pauling, who spent an hour with him on the morning of November 11, 1954, '...when I signed the letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atom bombs be made.'

- Albert Einstein
Sixty one years ago a democratic president signed off on a plan to use a atomic energy to destroy as many people as possible in a bombing raid by one plane. However this was not the most deadly raid against Japan. That occured during the firebombing raids against Tokyo. Our policy was to bring about surrender by killing as many Japanese as possible, men women and children by low level fire bombing not high altitude precision bombing against industrial military targets. Once we in the west gets into a war where there is a defined enemy who treatens the fabric ofour shared community then all bets are off. This has not happened since 1941-45. What do you want to bet it will not happen again because our fundamental nature has changed now that we are a liberal democratic society. It is just that when we are run democrats that the enemy has the most to worry about.
If "Iran (truly) contains millions of people who want to be liberated from the butcher mullahs in Tehran", then why aren't they doing something about it? And not blogging, but something real? Where is the insurrection? Where is the sabotage? Where is anything being done against their 'occupiers' that comes close to resembling what is being done in Iraq by those opposed to our 'occupation'?

The lack of any substantive revolt leaves me with no option other than to conclude that the Iranians don't mind things so much... which makes them legitimate targets of whatever we do to 'their' regime.

As a side point, I remember hearing a lot about how the Iraqis really wanted to be liberated from Hussein. Yet there weren't daily attacks on his soldiers and the country's infrastructure, were there? Considering the Iraqis have no problems attacking the occupiers they don't like, I'm likewise left to conclude that the Iraqis didn't mind Hussein too much.
Ah, yes, because Republican ethics and politics are so very distinctly humanistic...
Oh, and even if the Iranians didn't like their ruling Mullahs, I wouldn't care if a whole bunch of them died in a military attack... for their lives aren't as near and dear to me as the American lives such an attack would be saving...
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It may have been a commentary on the recent phenomen on the left (see Duncan Black) that if the mullahs get the bomb, and then use it, the west would wipe Iran off the map (I don't believe that we would even in that case)- hence we don't have to worry about Iran getting the bomb because they'd be deterred from doung so.

I think that that is a bogus argument, BTW, for several reasons.
Well, let's take the Guardian thought experiment a little further.

What is the response to the terrorism of 5/7 as laid out in the article?

As bbm points out, the Iranians are likely not to be deterred by empty threats. So. Bomb 'em some more? Invade? (with what and who?)

Blair is being a smartass, for sure, but he's bringing up a point. Just what *is* to be done about Iran?
Okey dokey, then. If you haven't done it recently, it's time to go back and read Wretchard's three conjectures, everyone.

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