[FoRK] Upmanship / Pandering

Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> on Tue Apr 22 11:37:50 PDT 2008

On Apr 22, 2008, at 12:51 PM, Bill Humphries wrote:
> On Apr 22, 2008, at 10:26 AM, Jeff Bone wrote:
>> Unless you understand that war is the continuation of politics by  
>> other means (von Clausewitz) and that sabre-rattling has its place,  
>> perhaps particularly when confronting medieval fanatics on a  
>> mission from Allah.  Senator Obama's comments on this reinforce my  
>> belief that this made severely misunderstands the nature of the  
>> threat posed to Western modernity by the Islamo-fascists.
> Bone, you don't have much of a grasp about Iran, do you?

I believe I  do;  certainly a better grasp of things on the ground  
there than e.g. the colossally bad analysis that led to "Axis of  
Evil."  Basically, circa early 2001, Iran was on a rather encouraging  
trajectory;  a post-revolutionary generation was coming of age who  
were generally anti-mullah, pro-Western, and liberal / progressive  
(relatively speaking, for the region) in social and religious  
outlook.  Reform seemed inevitable;  Mohammad Khatami, who Amadinejad  
replaced as President, and Akbar Rafsanjani, who he beat in 2005, were  
certainly moving things in the right direction, however slowly.

In a remarkable turn of events, Mr. Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech ---  
perhaps his single-most impressive oratorical achievement, though the  
results are from my perspective almost universally bad --- coupled  
with diplomatic moves that were equally out of touch with the above- 
stated reality and helped to re-legitimize the extremist mullahs ---  
helped fuel a dramatic and significant reversal of the political  
pendulum in that country and undid a decade and a half's progress in  
just a couple of years.  The hardliners were back with a vengeance in  
country and using their influence to steer funding and other aid to  
Shi'ite militants elsewhere including the Hezbollah, Sadr's Jeesh al  
Mehdi, and even non-Shi'ite groups such as Hamas and others.

So why is Bush's sabre-rattling bad, and Hillary's good?

Bush didn't *need* to rattle the sabre at that point.  The socio- 
political landscape in country was *not as he thought it was.*  And  
the proximal threat could easily be dealt with by other means.  Now,  
we've undermined those other means, and we've got to deal with the  
facts on the ground:  the memetic tide has turned in Iran and we're  
unlikely to be able to prevent their acquisition of nuclear arms short  
of an invasion which we can neither afford nor, practically, mount at  
this point.

> But you've made up your mind that you'll vote McCain because you  
> think you'll pay less taxes, so I should stop engaging with you on  
> the subject.

I haven't made up my mind to vote McCain.  I'd vote McCain in a two- 
way matchup between McCain and Obama, sure.  In a two-way matchup  
between McCain and Hillary, undecided.  And it's not going to be a two- 
way matchup in any case, and I'm not forced to vote at all.  I've only  
made up my mind *not* to vote for Obama...  very different from the  
above, and no reason to disengage unless your goal is swinging me for  
the Bama Man.  ;-)


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