January 18, 2006


The west has picked a fight with Iran that it cannot win: Washington's kneejerk belligerence ignores Tehran's influence and the need for subtle engagement (Simon Jenkins, January 20, 2006, The Guardian)

Never pick a fight you know you cannot win. Or so I was told. Pick an argument if you must, but not a fight. Nothing I have read or heard in recent weeks suggests that fighting Iran over its nuclear enrichment programme makes any sense at all. The very talk of it - macho phrases about "all options open" - suggests an international community so crazed with video game enforcement as to have lost the power of coherent thought.

Iran is a serious country, not another two-bit post-imperial rogue waiting to be slapped about the head by a white man. [...]

I would sleep happier if there were no Iranian bomb but a swamp of hypocrisy separates me from overly protesting it.

Mr. Jenkins similarly wrote before the Iraq War that while he personally wanted Saddam gone we shouldn't remove him and, though he realized America would likely take him out irrespective, he wrote as if Britain might be talked out of helping. Here he seems to think that America can be talked out of denying Ahmadinejad an active nuclear weapons program. He certainly hasn't wised up any over the past four years.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 18, 2006 10:41 PM

If Ahmadinejad would just clam up for a month or so, folks like Jenkins could be more openly hostile to the U.S.'s presumed intentions, instead of trying to make the case that while the Iraninan leader is nuts, doing something about that would be a losing battle.

Posted by: John at January 18, 2006 11:10 PM

The argument seems to be that taking on Iran will cause the Arab street to revolt and lead to $100/barrel oil which will lead to global depression. Possible but weren't the same things said about Iraq?

Posted by: AWW at January 18, 2006 11:12 PM

Don't mess with Texas, and don't mess with video games. Ask those worthy oriental gentlemen who were in that shack in Pakistan, if you can find any bits and pieces big enough to talk to, how well video-game players fight.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 18, 2006 11:17 PM

Iran is a serious country...

Say what ?
Wouldn't a "serious country" do something about their HUGE unemployment problem, rather than spending billions on essentially worthless atomic bombs ?

"Worthless" in the same way that NoKo's nukes are of little value; they are unnecessary to prevent an attack from any neighboring country, but aren't a big enough threat to stop the U.S. & Allies from crushing their owners.

Further, neither Iran nor North Korea would be having any serious problems with the U.S. if they didn't have nuclear ambitions, so what's the point of spending money that neither Iran nor North Korea can afford to squander, on toys that reduce their national security ?

Iran and NoKo might be looking to Pakistan as a model, but the essential difference between them and Pakistan is that Pakistan has MORE than a mere handful of nukes. A lot of nukes constitutes a threat, a handful of nukes constitutes a nuisance.

If they had an opposing power to play off the U.S., they might make something of it, but in a unipolar world, they're going to get spanked sooner or later.

I would sleep happier if there were no Iranian bomb but a swamp of hypocrisy separates me from overly protesting it.

"Since I have sinned, I cannot protest evil - they may have nukes, and a willingness to use them, but what about Global Warming ?!?"

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 19, 2006 12:32 AM

I would sleep happier if there were no Iranian bomb but a swamp of hypocrisy separates me from overly protesting it.

Jenkins shows how simple it is to elevate one's moral squalor to ethical virtue.

Which demonstrates not so much the treason of the intellectuals as their profound confusion.

(To be sure, while it is, in the current case, only Israel that is being threatened with destruction, Jenkins's finely noned sense of right and wrong---or should one say, "supremely ethical indifference"---would undoubtedly prevent him from changing his attitude were England or Europe to be similarly threatened.)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at January 19, 2006 6:06 AM

"...the need for subtle engagement."

Isn't this always the prescription, going back to the Soviets at least? Just what (particulars, please) constitutes subtle engagement?

It sounds also like the 'nuance' spin proffered by a certain epicene presidential candidate....

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at January 19, 2006 7:06 AM

One rarely sees this level of moral confusion about international affairs outside the Anglican Church. If Jenkins wants to be made an arch-bishop, he should just say so.

Posted by: Noel at January 19, 2006 7:49 AM

"... slapped about the head by a white man ..."

The casual racism of the left really is breathtaking. Iranians/Persians and Arabs are Caucasian aka white men.

We've been told the msm are far superior to bloggers because they are fact checked and edited by professionals, so why can't articles like this get the simplest details right?

Posted by: erp at January 19, 2006 10:06 AM

The casual contempt for the west and the open admiration for a system run by unelected clergy or other strong men is the hallmark of the left today.

Not to be unexpected - those who wish to radicalize everything need power, worship power, and those who wield it over the compliant masses. Real democracy is too difficult as they actually have to convince the masses, er, the citizens, to support their programs.

Contempt for humans and their free will leads to contempt for those systems that permit that free will, and by extension the United States, the big cheese when it comes to that.

Posted by: Mikey at January 19, 2006 12:31 PM