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Monday, January 16, 2006

Your worst nightmare

While Iran continues to thumb its nose at the West - and announces a conference to question the authenticity of the Jewish Holocaust - leading Iranian blogger Hoder offers some words of advice to a worried world:

"Dear US and EU leaders,

"You can't stop Iran from achieving nuclear weapons. You have not enough diplomatic options, nor military solutions. Simply because Iran has played this game much smarter than you.

"To be honest, it's not the bombs that endanger the region. It's the undemocratic, threatening regime of Iran that makes any technology dangerous, let alone nuclear ones.

"So, please, instead of putting all your energy on stopping Iran, channel all your resources to make this regime change its behaviour.

"It's not possible by military attack or coup. It's only possible by helping every Iranian individual understand that they can change this regime if they want to. Not through another violent revolution, but simply through small holes that for whatever reason exit: elections!"

Such advice will no doubt offend the chicken-hawks, but we must do everything to avoid a repeat of the Iraq debacle.

30 Comments:

Blogger Wombat said...

The minute William Kristol starts entering the fray, it's definitive that a chasm exists between the rasons we are being given for pressuring Iran and the true motives. As Straussion, he like his fellow travelers, believe in the noble lie. His motives however are clear. Kritol is leader of the PNAC group and their policy papers make no bones about the desire to see US global hegemony consolidated and the Middle East subjugated to the US and it’s allies. While he is subtle enough to come across as impartial, the man is nothing more than a liar and a propagandist.

Only recently, Iran announced plans to build more reactors after ironically named, Bushier reactor was completed. Iran even issue a statement that they would welcome tenders from US companies.

The days of the mullahs are numbered. I think there is a much to be achieved by appealing to the younger generation to being about grass roots change to Iran. I think that blogger has some sound advice.

Monday, January 16, 2006 2:44:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Isn't it amazing that a man like Kristol is still even printed? But, of course, the Murdoch press sees itself as serving a higher propaganda purpose.

Monday, January 16, 2006 2:44:00 pm  
Blogger smiths said...

an attack on iran will not create another debacle like iraq, it will be infinitely more catastrophic,
they actually have weapons, shitloads of them, they have a genuine air-defence set up,
they control the straits of hormuz, they can hit air-craft carriers, israel, iraq, afghanistan,
it is truly psychopathic to contemplate an attack,
robert fisk recently wrote that the ordinary iranian people are the most pro western people in the arab world, but in the event of a bombing that sympathy would vanish,
also note the upcoming iranian oil bourse, its more than oil, its the entire dollar reserve system that keeps the air in the us balloon,

Monday, January 16, 2006 3:52:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

I agree with Smiths. Well put.

Monday, January 16, 2006 4:51:00 pm  
Blogger orang said...

More "Middle East Experts" writing in the Oz. I've stopped reading the opinion section - gives me gas.

Monday, January 16, 2006 4:58:00 pm  
Blogger violet said...

hmm the thought of orang with gas makes me want to strike a match.

Monday, January 16, 2006 6:50:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

I don't agree with Smiths in the slightest. Sure, Iran is a better equipped foe than Iraq, however America is more than able to deal militarily with Iran. Iran holds a couple of weapons that have not been tested in combat before. Take the (thought to be) powerful anti ship missile, the Sunburn, and the threat it poses to American naval vessels. This is hardly a problem, however - carriers can be marginalised if necessary due to the proximity of super US friendly Kuwait, who will more than happily let the Americans fly their jets from Kuwaiti territory using the enormous airbase and runway the Yanks built for the invasion of Iraq. Air defences can be taken out by cruise missiles - of which America has plenty. An invasion would certainly carry more risk of casualties during the hot war phase than - say - the overthrow of Saddam, but I still strongly assert that any sensible pundit would put their money on a swift American victory.

Also, the whole "dollar reserve" is a bunch of conspiracy theorising crap.
For starters, there is no one single element that keeps the American "air in the balloon" - and I find this metaphor economically misleading, as though America's economic might is somehow chimeric - moreso than the American consumer. Other, far wealthier nations than the Middle Eastern sandpits have a powerful and direct interest in maintaining the value of the USD. A slip in the USD caused by excess liquidity from an abandonment of the USD standard in oil trade would quickly be arrested by the central banks of (esp) Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea and the other Asian manufacturing economies.

Monday, January 16, 2006 11:02:00 pm  
Blogger Pete's Blog said...

Onya james

And lets not forget Israel is being directly threated by statements (so far) from Iran. If I were an Israeli I would be in the final stage of an air (and missile) strike (including the US and perhaps UK) to destroy or at least slow down the development of extremely dangerous weapons.

Every new nuclear weapon is a tragedy even if "nobel" developing countries are now in the business of developing them.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 1:32:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

James,

Back to your pet supject hey ;-)

“Sure, Iran is a better equipped foe than Iraq, however America is more than able to deal militarily with Iran. Iran holds a couple of weapons that have not been tested in combat before.”

I don’t think the initial confrontation is the issue, unless Iran successfully counter attacks and the US/Israel then escalate the confrontation to nuclear strikes. After the strike (whatever it’s purpose), there will be many secondary effects. Iran does have the influence to turn Afghanistan and Iraq into a hell hole. The US can barely contain Iraq with the Sunni insurgency. Imagine if the Shia turn on them en mass?

Let’s also be reminded that Russia has vowed to be Iran’s protector (whatever that means) and so has Pakistan. The Busher reactor is being completed primarily by Russian workers. I would therefore be hardly be surprised if Russia has established a presence in Iran (unofficially).

“Take the (thought to be) powerful anti ship missile, the Sunburn, and the threat it poses to American naval vessels.”

Interesting observation seeing as most weapons are indeed untested in battle, especially defensive ones. The Aegis defense system it thought to be effective as are other missile defense system.

“US friendly Kuwait, who will more than happily let the Americans fly their jets from Kuwaiti territory using the enormous airbase and runway the Yanks built for the invasion of Iraq.”

The US have plenty of options, including Afghanistan and Diego Garcia. The thing is, even I this day and age, old exocet missiles are still highly effective. All it takes is one direct hit on a carrier, and 6000 American’s can be killed.

I'd imagine Bush woudl have a hard time controllign his bladder explaining the deaths of more than a thousand US personel in less tha 24 hours.

The straight of Hormutz is still an unknown, and whether the US plans to protect it will be effective.

“Air defences can be taken out by cruise missiles - of which America has plenty.”

Cruise missiles are low risk but hardly effective. You still need reconnaissance to determine the effect of a strike. Also, the Iranians have not fallen into the trap of turning on their radar systems (until now) when provoked by UAVs flying into heir air space. No radar signal, no target.

“An invasion would certainly carry more risk of casualties during the hot war phase than - say - the overthrow of Saddam, but I still strongly assert that any sensible pundit would put their money on a swift American victory.”

That depends on the aim of the invasion. If you are talking about taking out specific ions, then yes you would be baking the right horse. If the hostility becomes drawn out, then that’s another matter.

Mind you, underground facilities would be a logistic nightmare and extremely difficult to take out.

“the whole "dollar reserve" is a bunch of conspiracy theorising crap.”

I respect your expertise in this area, but I personally think that the US consumer does not have the stomach to deal with such a trauma. How does the US cope with $100 oil prices? American markets are notoriously skittish, and while the fundamentals of the US economy may be robust, there is no accounting for the economic fallout from such an event.

“A slip in the USD caused by excess liquidity from an abandonment of the USD standard in oil trade would quickly be arrested by the central banks of (esp) Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea and the other Asian manufacturing economies.”

Doesn’t the US have the option to freeze US dollar trading also?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 1:44:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

I'll happily concede that besting Iran's military will not be another Iraq - perhaps more like Iraq mk.1 - however I strongly doubt the US would go to the enormous expense of occupying the country. I imagine that if an invasion were to occur, there would be specific objectives - probably relating to Iran's nuclear programme and perhaps its leadership. Then retreat.

I *strongly* doubt one Exocet missile could take out a carrier. Perhaps if it were a one in a million shot. Perhaps not even then. As you informed me, the Sunburn is a considerably more powerful missile than the Exocet, and what I've read since leads me to believe that a carrier would need to be struck by several Sunburns before it is disabled (sunk).

As for cruise missiles, I suppose their effectiveness depends on their targeting. And reconnaissance - as you and I both know, America has a number of options up its sleeve - not least of all its new generation UAVs like the Global Hawk (surveillance) and Predator (payload).


Onto economic and political consequences;

One of the reasons the oil shocks of the early 70s and 80s were so disruptive is due to the sudden enormous spikes. Over these last few years people have been weened on $60/barrel+ oil prices, so they would probably be considerably more tolerant than the days of the oil shocks. I'm not convinced that $100/barrel is a realistic figure, even in the face of war with Iran. It is possible that if the invasion goes badly and there is a prolonged oil shortage, an economic crisis will develop. Of course this is possible - and I imagine it would be factored into the cost-benefit analysis when and if the decision to go to war with Iran is made. Ditto allies - it's not in Russia's interest to have nukes proliferating in the region, and I can't imagine the Russians risking further humiliation at the hands of the Americans. I'm quite sure a deal could be done behind the scenes to ensure no one loses face, bar the Iranians. Although the Pakistanis are more of a wildcard - an attack on Iran would certainly destabilise Musharraf. However, the Pakistanis are considerably less able to project their force than the Russians, and thus do not represent as grave a threat. Pakistan would be well advised to ensure everything's quiet on the eastern front before it starts attempting to stick up for its neighbours in the west.

Iraq will not necessarily fall into chaos, either. A lot of people make the mistake of lumping Iran and Iraq's shias together simply because they're shias. The moderate Iraqi Shia clerics consistently distance themselves from Tehran. This is a logical sleight of hand that the left loves to peddle, but there is surprisingly little evidence for such a belief.

And what do you mean American markets are notoriously skittish? They have proven for the past 15 years that they are remarkably resilient.

I don't know if the US could freeze USD trading - how could they do so amongst two foreign nations?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 3:03:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

James,

I was asking if it were possible to freeze trading in currency the way Wall Street was able to shut down trading a few years ago. You would know better than I.

As for the resilience of US markets, you are the expert in this field, but then again, the US has hardly faced any real crisis in the last 15 years.

Also debatable is the strenght of the allegiance between Iranian and the Iraqi Shiites. It could go either way. Political leaders in the region are notorious for their hot air, but I suspect that any trust the Shia majority in Iraq has for the US would be erroded.

Again, much depends on the ability of Iran to defend itself. It has or is acquiring pretty capable anti-aircraft missiles from Russia, which stand a good chance of bringing down at least some US/Israeli aircraft.

Russia's commitment is the unknown. I would be curious to see how they could veto UNSC sanctions, while still maintaining a safe distance from the situation.

I agree that Russia would be opposed to Iran becomming nuclear weapons capable, but I still cannot foresee them being comfortable with a military strike against Iran.

"I imagine it would be factored into the cost-benefit analysis when and if the decision to go to war with Iran is made."

Based on recent experience, I would be rather suspect of cost-benefit analysis, sering as the push for the strikes are not based on soudn advice, so much as those whe prosed that Iraq's oil would pay for the adventure there also.

One canmto uderestimate the idology of these people. For them, the roots of the problems in Iraq has nothign to do with poor planning,so much as a failure to quell the insurgency, presumably due to a lack of resolve.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 3:44:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

In any event, you're right about planes coming down. I guess it is more likely that - in the event of a war in Iran - the threat posed against expensive hardware like planes and ships is a lot higher than what we saw in Iraq.

Obviously America would have to consider its commitments elsewhere when it considers what action to take against Iran. Iraq's shias are a tough call, but one they need to get right.

As for the the Americans shutting down the money markets - I have no idea :)

I suppose they could shut down their own markets, which may cause others to follow suit because they would probably plummet without the American lead in a time of crisis.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 5:40:00 am  
Blogger orang said...

james,
thanks for the military assessment. So no need to worry. If we invade Iran we'll kick their ass from the air and we will be proactively smart enough not to bother putting boots on the ground. Treat any Middle East experts with disdain, brought on CNN who talk about how Iran will be tougher than Iraq, and it's been easy so far but we still haven't destroyed the 1960's vintage Mirages (or whatever) which could wreak havoc ...
You made no mention of the B52 bombers. My personal favourite. Drop tons of bombs from a great height, there goes Tehran, Isfahan, - valiant fly-boys doing their bit for freedom.
Ahh nostalgia.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 8:20:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

Yo uhave a point orang,

There's never been an explanation for what happened to Saddam's migs and mirages from the Gulf War. Didn't the story go that Saddam flew his planes over to Iran (before Gulf War 1) to protect them from the bombing?

If this is true, then they are stil sitting in Iran. Hardaly staet fo the art, but effective I might guess.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 8:47:00 am  
Blogger orang said...

..effective against camel riding bedouins who might ride into their spiky end in the dark.....

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 8:52:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

Funny you should mention that Orang. If you saw that pathetic film, Stealth, they have a scene of a tribe of "terrorists" moving a couple of massive warheads in broad day light using steers.

I thought it ws the most rediculous thing I have ever seen.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 11:05:00 am  
Blogger Pete's Blog said...

Weapons such as US B2 bombers (with precision guided bombs) would take out the Iranian anti-ship missile sites (and individual hidden missiles) in the first 5 minutes.

What would Russia do? About as much as they did for Belgrade. If US promises of grants and other diplomatic tradeoffs are good Russia will in the end accept that Iran is liability.

Pakistan - its nukes are aimed at India. A relationship (more or less) amounting to an alliance with the US exists. Why would Pakistan wish to risk all this. If Iran were attacked Pakistan would not wish to paint itself as the next "rogue, Muslim, nuclear, state"

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 11:54:00 am  
Blogger HisHineness said...

"Funny you should mention that Orang. If you saw that pathetic film, Stealth, they have a scene of a tribe of "terrorists" moving a couple of massive warheads in broad day light using steers."

addamo, you actually watched that movie? You just went down a notch!

I'm hoping you didn't pay for the "privilege".

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 12:02:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Shab,

B52 bombers would be the least effective way to take out anti-Ship sites. The coast of Iran is rocky and moutainous, and apparently a beehive of tunnels built for that very purpose. Anit-ship missiles can also be launched by aircraft.

Yes Russia did back down on Belgrade, but this situation is right on their border. Belgrade held no strategic significance. Iran most certainly does.

I doubt Pakistan would be much of a deterrent, but it's population could rise up again Musharraf.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 12:34:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

HisHineness said...

"addamo, you actually watched that movie? You just went down a notch!"

Hey, I never said I was smart did I? Would you believe me if I said I watched it for the FX? ;-)

Seriously, that's the reaosn. I am in the 3D and FX industry.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 12:35:00 pm  
Blogger smiths said...

chimera - A fanciful mental illusion or fabrication
Money - an agreement within a community to use something as a medium of exchange.
it may be backed or valued with something tangible or merely by the issuing authority; and it may take any shape – coins and bills, some chalk marks on a blackboard, or bits of data inside a computer.

tell me james, what thing of substance is backing the us dollar,
also tell me why the US federal reserve bank, which incidentally is not federal, holds no reserves and is not a bank, is stopping the publishing of the M3 figures in march to save 0.00000699% of its annual net income
also explain to me how the challenging of the US dollar as the world's reserve currency by trading arguably the most valuable commodity in euro's is not a problem for the us economy

i'd be genuinely ready to listen and learn but bear in mind that a single use of the word 'conspiracy' will negate any credibility you might currently have

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 4:48:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Orang - just because I didn't mention "boots on the ground" doesn't mean they weren't invisaged. Point is, a big chunk of the USA's military advantage happens to be airborne. So I concentrated on it. No one is suggesting that this and this alone could topple the mullahs, if it came to that. Do try to keep up.

Re. Iraq's MiGs.. seem to recall reading that Saddam got some back after the Gulf war concluded. Iran kept many. I also remember reading reports that Americans had found and destroyed hidden Iraqi MiGs in 2003.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 4:54:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Sure, we can debate the value of fiat money all day, Smiths. True to my classically liberal leanings, in terms of money I would much rather return to something of tangible value - gold - than rely on the backing of a government. This, however, is another issue entirely.

If oil were suddenly traded in euros, the cataclysmic forecast by many is that the value of the USD would suddenly drop catastrophically, causing massive economic damage in the USA as governments across the world dump their USD holdings in fright.

Trouble is, the manufacturing nations of the world are dead keen to ensure that the American economy keeps on humming, and also that the American dollar is expensive (whilst their own currency is cheap) so that American consumers (the most important people in the world, economically speaking) can buy lots more of their output. Since the collapse of Bretton Woods, Japan has been strategically buying USD to reduce liquidity and inflate the American currency's value. Most (if not all) of the Asian manufacturers peg their currencies at an artificially cheap rate to the USD. China is now a massive player in this game.

If oil ceases to be traded in USD, the former oil producers can do two things - hold their USD reserves (so liquidity on the money markets doesn't change, so the value of the USD remains constant - no problem) or dump their USD holdings, causing a massive increase in USD liquidity. The law of supply and demand kicks in and the value of the USD falls.

However, this goes against the interests of some very big players with exceptionally deep pockets - namely Japan, China, S Korea, Taiwan, Singapore. And to a lesser extent Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand etc. As soon as the value of the USD starts plummeting, you can bet your bottom dollar that their central banks will immediately intervene to mop up the liquidity and thus prop up the value of the USD to a rate they're happy with via the same principle of supply and demand.

Conspiracy.

Now how does my argument sound, regardless of my lack of credibility?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 5:13:00 pm  
Blogger smiths said...

a humorous use of the word plus limited response to my questions maintains your credibility, but who am i to judge it anyway,
any thoughts on the M3

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 5:25:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Yeh, love a good BMW.

Interesting definition of the word "limited". Perhaps you'd like to point out where my thesis is lacking.

Incidentally, I have no idea why the feds aren't going to publish M3 aggregates. Sounds like one of those things economic cons------ theorists fret about.

Incidentally, did you know that the EU usually overshoots its M3 targets by a factor of two?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 5:34:00 pm  
Blogger orang said...

I'm glad you boys switched to talking about EU, US dolar & money. That earlier talk about the US can "take out" and Iran doesn't stand a chance gives me the creeps. It gives me the creeps because the obvious is being stated, yet we are possibly going to "take out" Iran, despite the obvious... The obvious is that the US at any time can "take out" any 2-3 countries at once if it wishes. If james, who seems to know about such things can confirm, any ONE of their 12 or so Carrier fleets has an airforce more powerful than anybody - except perhaps Russia, China, UK, France and Israel (not necessarily in that order) So what threat is Iran? Sooo lets stop talking like adolescents who have not yet got rid of their fascination with guns, and how the US can "take out".....Fuck it, talk about something sensible.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 6:21:00 pm  
Blogger neoleftychick said...

The success of Iraq provides a perfect model of what to do. Since we invaded Iraq, toppled Saddam and got the oil flowing again all the unstable threats to our lands have gone.

They have been attracted like bugs to a mozzie-zapper and they are currently calmly and methodically blowing EACH OTHER to smithereens.

It has cost us only 2,300 lives so far. If we replicate this success in Iran it will prove to have been the most brilliant military/diplomatic strategy for a very long time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 6:28:00 pm  
Blogger orang said...

neo,
personally I think the 2,300 is quite a lot just to make a few people rich. And to kill only a few hundred thousand towel heads? What a waste of effort! I guess you don't really care because it's only southern white trailer trash and "coloureds".

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 7:18:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Tut tut, Orang.

Two regional wars at the same time.

Also, a supercarrier of Nimitz class I *think* has an aircraft capacity of about 80. Australia operates 70ish F/A-18s and 30ish F-111s. So we could kick a supercarrier's arse anyday! Woohoo! India's airforce is better than China's and their pilots are better, too, so don't forget them. Taiwan also has a formidable airforce. I imagine South Korea does, as well.

Okay. Enough military chatter.

What Addamo and I were talking about has nothing to do with the "phwoar!" factor of US military superiority over a country like Iran. We were discussing the potential damage Iran's not inconsiderable defences could do to an American attack on that country.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 7:47:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Neo,

I have no odea what plant your on swwetheart but Iraq is just going from bad to worse and you are your fellow moonbats are just starting out into the horizin, looking at nothing apparently, declaring mission accomplished.

All Iraq has done is prove to the regiojn that having nukes means not being invaded. Brillian stratergy indeed. Now we have civil war to look forward too. Another good thing no doubt so those towel heads can eliminate more fo their kin.

I can see why in your eyes it is Mission Accomplished.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 12:25:00 am  

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