Redlining Syria and Redlining Iran

Walter Donway's picture
Submitted by Walter Donway on Wed, 2013-09-04 21:56

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/....

Our ever-reliable ally, Israel, is urging President Obama to attack Syria. Or so says this article in the Huff post. It makes sense; Israel and the American-Israeli lobby want all our foreign policy to be in the national self-interest--of Israel. Now, for those asking if any of the American public supports attacks on Syria, you know who DOES support American attacks on Syria--and so you know America will got to war, no matter what American public opinion says.

The one and only point that catches my attention in the argument for attacking Syria is that the world has maintained an almost unbroken ban on use of poisonous gas since WWI. The Nazis developed sarin gas early in WWII, and made shells, but did not use them. The United States may have supplied gas to Iraq to use against Iran; more likely just sanctioned its use because the Reagan Administration thought that anything was better than a gain in power by Iran, since this was exactly at the time of the outrageous and unforgivable hostage crisis. If Syria now has used gas, and it is confirmed by the U.N. and agreed by most observers, and if nothing is done against Syria, then the almost 100-year old ban is null and void. And, as Israel urges, we are TRYING to enforce the same type of ban on Iran in developing nuclear weapons.. As I say, this is the ONLY point about the argument for attacking Syria that catches my attention at all.

I guess supporters of Israel, which probably includes almost everyone here, including most emphatically myself, don't back Israel on this particular decision. Is that because it is perceived that Assad's sarin gas attack was on Hezbollah? And that Hezbollah and Iran are in the same camp? So Israel's red line against Iran's nuclear weapons is good; but Obama's (fading) red line against poisonous gas is Syria is bad? On this, I really am “just asking.”

Has everyone who vents eight times a day on the importance of supporting everything Israel wants gone off-line, now?


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Kyrel

Richard Wiig's picture

If it is moral to use nukes when called for in self-defence, because to not act would be a sacrifice, then it is moral to refrain from attacking someone for using chemical weapons when to attack would be a sacrifice. At least that's what I'm thinking. I'm not sure about the merits of upholding a ban on chemical weapons regardless of context.

Walter

Richard Wiig's picture

I cannot comment on the merits or otherwise of having installed the Shah of Iran. I simply do not know enough. However, you imply that if the Shah had not been installed that the Iranians would have been spared their oppression. Somehow I doubt it, albeit an uninformed doubt. That aside though, it has little bearing on how to respond to the situation today. You say that the Iranian people do not want intervention from America, but this isn't true. They would have loved some moral intervention back when they were massively mobilised against the current regime, but the only intervention they got was from Hezbollah who came to the regimes aid by making the protests more bloody. In regards to Israel, there is this report here:

http://freebeacon.com/report-obama-vetoed-israeli-strike-on-iran/

 Israel has expressed concerns for some time about Iran's nuclear ambitions and made no secret that they want to put an end to it. What are the sanctions all about??? Regardless of who attacks Irans nuclear installations, America must stand alongside Israel whether they join in an attack or not. Israel's enemy is America's enemy, and in fact the enemy of us all. It is clearly in America and the world's interest, just as much as Israel's, not to see a nuclear armed Iran.

Lindsay, thanks for the warm welcome to SOLO!

Walter Donway's picture

Well, Linday, if I am preaching moral equivalence, relativism, or collective rights, then I am either confused on this issue or not expressing myself well. Because you can imagine that I have argued against all three for years. Indeed, I have waxed indignant at them, as do you. So I don't think we disagree on any principles, just on my perhaps confused application of them to this case.

My view on the bad guys, dictatorships, is per Ayn Rand on Cuba or "any other slave pen," in her always colorful language. We have a right to invade, since a government that fails to recognize the rights of its citizens cannot claim any right to national sovereignty or freedom from "interference." But, as she said, we do not have an obligation to invade; that should be a matter of genuine national self-interest. As I understand it, this is the party line, and I faithfully adhere to it..

I talked about the United States not having a "right" to use a CIA coup to overthrow the government of Iran in 1953 and install the Shah, whom we kept in power for decades. Wikipedia states this nutshell on the situation:

"Mohammad Mosaddegh or Mosaddeq, was the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran from 1951 until 1953, when his government was overthrown in a coup d'état orchestrated by the British MI6 and the American CIA."

And this is what happened to the first democratically elected government of Iran because the CIA was afraid that there were too many leftist elements in the government, although freely elected, and it would fall to Soviet subversion. If having too many leftist elements in a democratically elected government is reason to invade a country, I await invasion of America.

With this action, the U.S. with utter cynicism and disregard for the rights of a freely elected government, installed a dictator known for the viciousness of Savak, his secret police. I take this personally, because the treasurer of that free government, by the name of Akhavi, was forced to flee the CIA over the mountains on donkey back. With him was his son, Shahin, who has my roommate at Brown University and who still is my best friend. We fucked up Iran's chances for freedom and installed a crippling dictator until, finally, the forces of reaction grew strong and, with our help (Jimmy C.), overthrew the Shah and cleared the way for the present regime. If we hate it, imagine how the Iranians (many, many of them) feel.

Why we should have invaded or bombed Iran "years ago" I cannot fathom. Iran has attacked no one. It is true that its hideous regime supports guerrilla subversion throughout the region, but Israel has handled that fine by good policing and firm retaliations. And if we invade all governments that support subversion, why haven't we hit Saudi Arabia (hey, maybe you think we should?), since 19 out of 19 terrorists on those planes that hit the World Trade Center towers were Saudi.

I suggested that we have no reason to invade Iran. And that, given Iran's size, strength, and nationalistic fervor we would become involved in a catastrophe. That is a matter of judgement, of course, and opinions will be all over the place. I am not a military strategist. I don't think we should invade Iran because to do so, now, would be against our national self-interest. To say the very least. Back in 1953, we had no moral grounds for attacking, subverting, Iran.

I suggested from a very practical viewpoint that Israel is in a much, much better position to decide when and if it is necessary to invade Iran. I would have much, much more confidence that that decision was warranted than I would if the decision were made by Mr. Obama. Israel seems to act genuinely in its selfish interest, and acts firmly, and hugely values the resources (in men and women) at stake when it must act.

Right now, my wife is bugging me to put on my bathing suit, so I have to stop. I have written this a bit quickly. I hope that, if I have perpetuated my confusions, you now realize that I am not knowingly promulgating all those terrible ideas that you attributed to me!

Walter

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I'm enjoying your presence and your posts very much; I adore your erudition and the elegance of your prose. I hope you won't mind my expressing vehement exception to this post by you:

I can't agree, I'm afraid, with the idea of bombing Iran's nuclear capability. Iran does not have such a capability, as yet, and there is deep disagreement about what Iran is doing. Also, Iran will not be the first to develop a nuclear capacility; not even among the first dozen--and some of those nations have gone about it illegally (Pakistan, Israel). Where does the United States get off initiating aggressive war on Iran for (perhaps) developing nuclear capability as has, for example, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel? Based on ONE statement by Iran's former president, a statement that speakers of Farsi swear did not threaten Israel's existence?

To me, Walter, this reeks of moral equivalence: the bad guys should be able to develop whatever weapons the good guys have, and anything prohibited to the bad guys should be prohibited to the good guys too. (There are, after all, no good and bad guys in this relativistic world. Hitler was just misunderstood, and America should have apprised him of its nuclear programme and shared it with him so that both sides in the war had an equal chance.) If Obamarx were finally to grow a pair and "initiate aggressive war on Iran" it wouldn't be that; it would be a case of pre-emptive retaliatory force, which should have been "initiated" years ago. It's symptomatic of our time, and of the fact that Airhead America so richly deserves the destruction that awaits it, that appeasement now rules.

The United States is the great villain (a.k.a., Satan) in Iran. With utter disregard for Iran's rights, for democratic process, for Iran's own interests, the CIA, led by Kermit Roosevelt, in 1953 overthrew Iran's first democratically elected government because if reneged on certain agreements with oil companies and because we fear that the new liberal government MIGHT be taken over at some point by Soviet backed communists.

Iran's rights?! "Rights" is a nation-based concept now, and countries run by dinky dictatorships have rights, if that dictatorship is "democratically elected"? "Reneging" on "certain agreements with oil companies"—i.e. confiscating them—is a mere trifle? Walter, I doubt we in the West would be enjoying our present standard of living or even the freedoms that remain to us if this philosophy prevailed back then.

America is Satan? Are you serious? Are the mullahs thus God?

But, as Israel has said, recently, they don't require our help on Iran. When Isreal truly believes that Iran represents a threat to Israel's existence, believe me, Israel will respond and has every capability to do so. My guess: that will NOT be soon because politicians and the military in Israel are profoundly canny about these things. And, unlike some leaders I could name, those in Israel hold dear to their heart the life of every soldier who might have to go to war. When they decide to take the terrible risk of attacking Iran, it will be in the irreducible core interest of the State of Israel. Leave it to them.

Erm, I'm confused. Is a military strike by the US against Iran wrong because it's wrong, or wrong because it's right but Israel should do it? Would you support or oppose a strike by Israel?

Walter, you're very welcome to post here—it's the only truly open Objectivist site that exists, as far as I know—but there must be no false pretences; openness doesn't mean the only person who can't speak freely on this site is its owner (contrary to the assumptions of some). I regard what you've said here as an egregious instance of what I call Obleftivism and pomo-relativism in action. Islam is a stupid, savage, stinking superstition, as I've said many times, and for an Objectivist to argue that Islamofascist regimes have the same rights as the sovereign individuals over whom they routinely ride murderously roughshod, is something I find beyond astonishing.

Curious

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Walter -- I see a big difference between semi-free nations like America, Britain, France, India, and Israel acquiring nuclear weapons; and mostly tyrannical nations like Russia, China, Pakistan, and North Korea getting them. I thought this last should never have been allowed, historically. The West should have immediately attacked, rather than be defenseless, and live decades under their terrible threat, and in a fairly permanent state of terror. But I'm curious as to what you, and any other thoughtful person, thinks about this complicated issue?

Nuclear Weapons and Muslim Activist Leaders

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Richard -- Yes, I think it's moral for semi-free Western nations to use nuclear weapons of mass destruction against an evil enemy in certain dire situations. The collateral damage of all the massive destruction of property, and especially the death of multitudes of kids (and intelligent animals) is truly unfortunate, but seems like the fault and responsibility of the evil aggressors. This was true in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In general, however, as I've advocated countless times before, I want the dictators and their top 100 or 1000 cronies and supporters targeted first, in any aggressively-warring tyranny (such as North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc.). Then I want a massive propaganda campaign to follow up (or even precede it) to get the population to switch sides, and avoid further death, as they convert to being freedom-supporters.

As for the Russian semi-dictator Putin, as usual he asks many good questions. But yes, if the Syrian rebels are guilty of using chemical weapons and slaughtering hordes of innocent kids, then I think they should be exposed and punished, including even with bombs.

I also think Iran is currently waging a proxy war against the U.S. and Israel, and thus merits military reprisal on that account alone. Their nuclear threat is also terrible. Their dictators and top 1000 or so political, military, police, intellectual, and religious leaders and institutions should also be targeted. If the leading jihadis and shariaists are eliminated or scattered or broken in spirit, then the freedom-loving Iranian people may stage an uprising, as almost happened in 2009.

Good comments, Richard and Kyrel, and...

Walter Donway's picture

I appreciate very much your taking the time to make them.

From what I wrote, I guess it is clear that I tend to agree with Kyrel that we should not easily throw away almost a century's worldwide ban on use of gas in warfare. Actually, when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have a more than 60-year-long unbroken ban on using them in warfare, too. And that period includes the incredibly tense, volatile, and violent (regional wars again and again) Cold War. So let us not sniff at the importance of these bans.

Kyrel, you have a good idea about really focusing the spotlight of publicity and exposure on Syria and Assad, if they are proved to be the villains, here. I don't know how much that is in doubt, by the way, except by those seeking reasons to postpone action.

I can't agree, I'm afraid, with the idea of bombing Iran's nuclear capability. Iran does not have such a capability, as yet, and there is deep disagreement about what Iran is doing. Also, Iran will not be the first to develop a nuclear capacility; not even among the first dozen--and some of those nations have gone about it illegally (Pakistan, Israel). Where does the United States get off initiating aggressive war on Iran for (perhaps) developing nuclear capability as has, for example, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel? Based on ONE statement by Iran's former president, a statement that speakers of Farsi swear did not threaten Israel's existence?

After all, how many times has Iran initiated warfare in this century? Answer: never.

The United States is the great villain (a.k.a., Satan) in Iran. With utter disregard for Iran's rights, for democratic process, for Iran's own interests, the CIA, led by Kermit Roosevelt, in 1953 overthrew Iran's first democratically elected government because if reneged on certain agreements with oil companies and because we fear that the new liberal government MIGHT be taken over at some point by Soviet backed communists.

Aside from all this, Iran is not Iraq or even Afghanistan. It is a huge, mountainous, populous country ready to fight back long and hard. Those who advocate that the U.S. military should attack Iran's nuclear facilities are following the script written by Israel, a script that says America always should act in the national interest--of Israel.

But, as Israel has said, recently, they don't require our help on Iran. When Isreal truly believes that Iran represents a threat to Israel's existence, believe me, Israel will respond and has every capability to do so. My guess: that will NOT be soon because politicians and the military in Israel are profoundly canny about these things. And, unlike some leaders I could name, those in Israel hold dear to their heart the life of every soldier who might have to go to war. When they decide to take the terrible risk of attacking Iran, it will be in the irreducible core interest of the State of Israel. Leave it to them.

Thanks again for the fine comments, Kyrel and Richard. I appreciate them very much.

Walter

Kyrel, would you ever use

Richard Wiig's picture

Kyrel, would you ever use nukes to defeat your enemy? If it ever came to that, should you be punished for it? In regards to these attacks, it isn't established yet that Assad's side actually used them. Here's something Putin just asked.

"There is another question: if it turns out that the armed rebels are the ones who used weapons of mass destruction, what will the United States do with the armed rebels? And what will it do with those sponsoring the rebels? Will they stop supplying them with arms? Will they start fighting against them?"

I think the two sides should just be left to fight it out and then we deal with the outcome later, if needed. Meanwhile, Iran's nuclear facilities should be decimated.

The gas wasn't used on

Richard Wiig's picture

The gas wasn't used on Hezbollah, Walter. Assad is in the same camp as Iran. I don't know anything about Israel wanting this attack. I thought it was France who called for it first and then Britain and America jumped on board. I don't support a strike, although I could perhaps support neutralisation of the Chemical weapons supply and leave it at that. Weakening Assad will play right into al-Qaeda's hands. What should be hit, right now, is Iran's nuclear facilities. That doesn't seem to be on the table though.

The Syrian Mess

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Both sides in Syria seem to be profoundly evil, tyrannical, and anti-Western. Still, the use of chemical "weapons of mass destruction" is a horror which needs to be punished. Otherwise it won't be 500 kids killed next time, but 5,000. The best and most important Western counter-attack here seems to be a zealous attempt to ferret out the Truth of exactly who did what when, and then an attempt to massively publicize it. Let the whole world clearly see the faces of these Muslim monsters.

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