Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Language of Appeasement

My last post dealt with Rummy's claim that Iraq War critics are appeasers, specifically they are appeasing "vicious extremists." In today's Guardian, a significantly left of center English publication which I often read, presents a perfect example of an argument for caution in our approach to Iran that sounds like the sort of "appeasement" argument that Conservatives might cite to say that Liberals are soft on terrorism. The issue concerns whether or not the U.S. will go ballistic, pun intended, against Iran for thumbing its nose at UN resolution 1696 which insisted that Iran suspend enrichment of uranium of the sort that could give Iran the wherewith all to develop nuclear weapons.

Israel once took out an Iraqi nuclear reactor by bombing it on June 7, 1981.
An undisclosed number of F-15 interceptors and F-16 fighter bombers destroyed the Osirak reactor 18 miles south of Baghdad, on the orders of Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
It is no accident that Begin would have taken unilateral action in this matter because he was, in a way, the quintessential Jewish Warrior. I would say "Israeli Warrior" were it not for the fact that he got his start earlier than the date Israel came into being So there is precedent for taking unilateral action against a Muslim state though not necessarily one we should follow.

John Williams of the Guardian claims that Hizbullah's success has bolstered the confidence of the Iranian government. He might have added that the support of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez for Iran's right to develop nuclear power further adds to Iran's mojo, for Venezuela, like Iran, is an oil power. Chavez has chosen to send less oil to the USA so that he can send more to China and India. He might want to watch his step for the US has gone to war south of our border for a lot less.

Williams predicts that Iran will divide the Security Council due to its "traditional cunning in negotiation." This would lead to "the end of any hope of a negotiated solution brokered by the international community." Without Russia and China, the international community cannot act effectively. At this point, Williams says the next step is that "President Bush concludes that the UN and all who argue for negotiation, conciliation, engagement and international consensus have been proved hopelessly wrong: America must act militarily before Iran becomes a nuclear weapons state." We have been here before. Bush created a "coalition of the willing" that invaded Iraq when he decided that the UN wasn't serious about forcing Iraq to get rid of its WMD. [Actually, I believe that Bush was always going to invade Iraq no matter what.] That would, as it turns out, have been pretty difficult thing to do since he had already gotten rid of them. Why the fool, Saddam Hussein, just didn't give UN inspectors full access to his country I will never understand. Apparently he thought it would be better to see his country destroyed and him personally being arrested and tried on murder charges. Hitler took the same position but mooted the murder charge.

Williams then takes a the position of an appeaser par excellence when he says
the heroic approach to this potential catastrophe is patiently and tediously to persuade and cajole America and Iran into talking, delaying, arguing, disputing - in other words, not fighting. Even if we can't get them to agree, the tedium of diplomacy might at least go on until new attitudes and leadership emerge.
The appeaser talks and gives ground; talks some more and gives more ground; then talks some more and gives still more ground ad nauseum infinitum.

There is no mention of the use of force of some sort as a part of the process. Instead, one talks and concedes, as I suggested was true of the classic appeaser. Williams claims
The regime in Tehran, of which the president is only one element, is complex and capable of acting very effectively against our interests. We should be giving Iran incentives to act reasonably, however perversely the regime responds to generous offers like the one to give all necessary support to its civil nuclear programme. We must not lose patience.
What more can the international community offer to Iran but to help it in any way needed to ensure it has a plentiful supply of nuclear power. Any other concessions and one begins to border on genuine appeasement in the worst sense of the term.

I was for talking Saddam to death to avoid an invasion of Iraq. I was sure that we could safely do so since he seemed to be relatively harmless. As it turns out he was the quintessential paper tiger -- no WMD, not much of an air force, and an army that had not recovered from the first Gulf War. But who knew about the WMD? Everyone believed he had chemical weapons. The USA gave such weapons to him during the Iran war and in his report to the UN detailing how he had gotten rid of all WMD no mention of the destruction of these chemical weapons was made. Ergo, everyone was entitled to believe he still had them.

So, the question is whether we can safely engage in an endless process of talking more and possibly giving more with Iran. I do not have the answer to that question. I share Mr. Williams' fear that we are on the brink of something that could be very bad. And we all know to what extent Bush is capable of "Cowboying Up."

Some time back, The New Yorker had an article which, if memory serves, said that the Bush Administrationion was ready and willing to attack Iran's nuclear sites but that our military and/or our intelligence services told him that they weren't sure of their location, including especially the underground facility that is understood to exist, and had no confidence in the success of any air strike on known sites. Nothing would be worse that a monster attack on supposed Iranian nuclear sites that failed.

Nevertheless if you ever want to read a classic liberal/leftist appeasement statement, Williams has provided one. I don't know how accurate the New Yorker's story about Bush's thinking about attacking Iran or its stating what the military's and/or intelligence agencies' advice to Bush was about such attacks. I have it on good authority that similar cautionary tales were told to Rummy, Cheney, and Bush by the same people in regard to going to war against Iraq. Bush et al ignored that advice and one high ranking General was given his walking papers. They might ignore such advice again despite the current disaster in Iraq. I have a very bad feeling about this -- about Bush's going proactive in a military way to force Iran to do what the UN has said it wants and about his not going proactive in a military way. If Iran gets nukes the world will be a more dangerous place. But the fact is, or so I believe, Bush can't engage Iran or any other formidable nation so long as we have a large army in Iraq for it too might be vulnerable to an Iranian attack. It will take Bush most of the rest of his term to get our army out of Iraq leaving precious little time to move on Iran.

I await the wisdom of the readers. I have none to offer as to the correct course of action but appeasement rankles.

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Blogger Full Metal Attorney said...

"Hitler . . . mooted the murder charge."
This is the most light-hearted, amusing take on suicide I have ever heard. I think I'm applauding you here, but I'm not sure.

Your position on this issue doesn't seem clear, so I'm going to ask some questions.

If Saddam did indeed have WMDs, and Bush had good intelligence to give him knowledge of that state of affairs, would he have been wrong in invading Iraq? I think that this would have been proper, since he clearly wasn't going to cooperate with the UN any time in the foreseeable future.

At what point is it proper to invade Iran? Is it (a) when they miss the next deadline set by the UN, (b) when they refuse any diplomatic talks on the subject, or (c) when the UN decides it's OK (and when should the UN so decide, or will they?), (d) when they first test their nuclear weapons, or (e) some other time? I would think (c) is preferable, but the UN is always so indecisive about things. It's kind of frustrating. My next choice would be (a) or (b), and (d) is definitely not a good choice.

3:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you've nailed down the dilemna perfectly. Iran appears to be a serious regional threat. Iraq may never have been. But our occupation of Iraq both increases our risk from Iran and significantly limits our response options.

Doh. Should have invaded Canada.

5:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Spoonfighter, the US did invade Canada, but it didn't really pan out.

7:38 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

Kelly, since the order to give up WMD was a UN issue, the fact that it was unwilling to endorse a military action on that basis, the WMD issue wasn't a sufficient cause. That is why Bush et all stacked up all the lies. I don't count the WMD thing as a lie per se but the claim that there were these mobile military chemical labs was a lie or, at least, a claim based on no solid evidence, which is nearly as offensive. The terrorist angle was a fraud. The Niger nuclear thing was if not a total fabrication then a monumental error in inferencing. IMO, Bush wanted to invade because he saw his father's failure to finish off Saddam as a sign of his father's weakness, the sin of the father rubbing off on him, and was determined to invade and finish the job. It was personal. Wolfowitz wanted to invade to create a democracy there to make the Middle East safe for Israel. That it would make the Middle East less hostile to us was another factor for him. Cheney wanted to for oil reasons, I'm guessing. Rumsfield was the DoD Chief and he wanted to be a war cheiftan, I suspect. All believed this would be a quick in and out deal: So "what was the harm?" they must have thought. So they sent Powell to the UN to lie through his teeth.

There are no good reasons to invade Iran. We would lose, pure and simple, unless we were willing to destroy Iran. Since the latter would be required, I suspect we would nuke Iran everywhere we thought there was a nuclear facility. That would cause everyone, even Candida and the UK to hate our guts. So, we cannot go to war against Iran. That is simply not an option. Sending special forces units in to assassinate its leaders would be an option. Also to fund resistance movements. We could go back to our Chilean files for instructions as to how to cause a coup.

8:53 AM

Blogger Full Metal Attorney said...

I don't think we would lose a war in Iran. Let's just say that it would be incredibly costly. But so was WWII, so I suppose we have to wait for an incredibly good justification for going to war there. But then, perhaps one motivation for the Iraq war was to set up an additional base of operations for a war on Iran. Things just didn't pan out as well as some people in charge had planned.

5:07 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

I have deleted an anonymous post. I am beginning to think Hugh is up to old tricks.

8:53 AM

Blogger Full Metal Attorney said...

Hugh, maybe if you hadn't done it before then the suspicion would be lessened.

I still find it incomprehensible that you can't figure out the difference between

A) quoting a person's conclusions as final proof of an argument


B) quoting a person's non-conclusory statements (bare facts) as support for an argument or quoting a person to discuss and critique what they have said

I also continue to find it bizarre that you don't see that my mere presence and welcome active participation in this blog is incontrovertible proof that LG is not merely silencing dissent. You keep ignoring this argument every time I bring it up. Either try to make a case that I'm merely LG's yes-man or leave, already.

PS: an internet-based test said 136, but I don't know how accurate it is. What I do know is that I scored a 33 on the ACT. And what, exactly, is your IQ, oh person-who-questions-the-intelligence-of-others?

10:52 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

My problem with you, Hugh, is that I don't like you. Not you personally because I have never met you but you as an internet entity. You hide behind the anonymity of the internet like a coward and hurl insults at me and others when frustrated or angered. You, on the other hand, know exactly who I am.

Unfortunately you are easily frustrated/angered. This leads me to believe that you are young. The fact that you go formal when pissed off, as in "How dare you, sir, to ..." is extremely odd. This suggests that you have few social skills, which is consistent with being young. It is also consistent with your having an inferiority complex. People with low self-esteem strike out at those they see as hostile to them. The fact that you cannot see the distinction between citing someone as a source of information, as opposed to opinion, and citing someone as a source of opinion suggests immaturity of an intellectual nature. The former can be countered by citing opposing sources of information. The latter is an instance of the fallacy of appealing to authority.

What I am emphatically not opposed to the fact that you dissent. I am quite used to that. I have been critiqued by some of the smartest people in the world, including your boy, Noam Chomsky, but also your countryman, David Lewis, who may be smarter than Chomsky. You pose no threat to me whatever except that I am weary of dealing with you. Not to reply seems weak. But replying just allows you to hurl more insults. It is lose-lose for me.

Predictably, you will have to have the last word on this subject and you will insult me some more.

10:28 AM

Blogger Full Metal Attorney said...

Hugh, I am done with you. Your statements betray all the things LG noted as well as other personal problems. I have never posted anonymously on any blog, ever, and I certainly have not posted anonymously here and attributed the statement to you. I will no longer respond to anything you say, no matter what insane, idiotic, or inflammatory things you say.

10:50 AM

Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

Um...LG, I thought you were just going to delete his posts and be done with it. What happened?

I mean, I'm all for free speech and the right to dissent, etc., but this is getting ridiculous. You're allowing someone who obviously bears you nothing but ill will to hijack your blog.

I think of my blog as a virtual extension of my home; it's a little piece of Cyberia that is my very own. People are as welcome to drop by there as they are to my real-world home, to chat or argue or just hang out. I don't care if any of them disagree with me as long as they're civil. But if they start jumping about, ranting and raving and shitting on the floor cushions, I ask them to leave. (So far, that's only happened once. And I partially spayed her by automatically bouncing three of her IP addresses to a "Nazis for Jesus" site.) I assume you have a similar outlook regarding your real home, so why are you putting up with this?

And Hugh, if you're so bored, why do you keep coming back? Especially to a place where you know you are not wanted. Surely your efforts to champion the causes of justice and freedom of expression would be more effective elsewhere. Just sod off already.

8:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's fun to watch you all match up with your collective intellectual wit. Everyone here has a grandiose view of their intellectual prowess. I have nothing really to add to this coversation really. It's too bad to see Hugh go away just like Jennifer. Hopefully nobody will have any derogatory comment to make in the future. This reminds me of Republican tactics. Eliminate the opinions of those who can skin the cat another way. That's fine. It's your blog, LG, and it's your rules. Really though, don't you want to debate young people? Young people are malleable. BTW, my IQ is only 138.

9:32 PM

Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

Yeah, Jennifer's insightful contributions are sorely missed.

(I personally will be eternally indebted to her for suggesting a new piece for my collection of masturbatory aids.)

2:16 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

It goes against my grain to suppress speech and to act in a prejudicial manner to anyone, including idiots like Hugh. One of the reasons is that Chomsky blackballed an MIT UG because he didn't like him. I won't name the guy's name but be assured that it didn't much slow his progress to the top of the field. I heard Chomsky actually say this and lost a bit of respect for him right then and vowed I would never do it. But you are right, he has hijacked the blog. He is gone. I just needed you folks I respect to encourage me to do so. Hugh's confidence in Chomsky is quite misplaced. If he knew him as I do, from 1963 on, he wouldn't be all that eager to use him as an intellectual guide.

8:01 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

To be clear, he wouldn't let the kid into the grad program.

8:02 AM


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