Monday, January 16, 2006

Is it Racist to Believe Non-Jews in the Middle East Can't Handle the Bomb?

I certainly think so. The above bit is from Suzanne Nossel in the Huffington Post. That so liberal a blogg would entertain truly racist views is very disturbing. Her article begins with the assumption that it’s just fine for Israel to have the bomb, but any nation that Israel disapproves of shouldn’t have the same right. She makes no argument for why this should be the case, assuming that we all agree with her that Arabs and Persians can’t be trusted. Her racist views are hardly uncommon among her fellow Jewish American Zionists; however, they should give us great pause.

Her justification for “preemptive war” against Iran is based on the absolutely untenable argument that were Iran to get the bomb, that the first thing they would do is attack Israel. That a nation with one or two nuclear weapons would assault Israel and suffer a catastrophic retaliation is simply impossible to believe. The only way one could believe such rubbish is if one believed that Iranians or other people of the Middle East are intellectually inferior to Jews. Only an inferior race could reason so unsuccessfully. An Israeli strike would almost certainly destroy Iran forever and what would Iran get in exchange? They would accomplish nothing, just the destruction of their nation, the removal of the government and United States or Israeli occupation of their oil rich lands.

The real reason Israel doesn’t want Iran to get the bomb is really quit simple. A nation with the bomb doesn’t have to negotiate. It doesn’t have to treat other nations and other peoples with respect and humiliation. A nation with the bomb can be the neighborhood bully. Thanks to our unilateral acceptance of Israeli nuclear ambitions, we have allowed a neighborhood bully to motivate every other nation in the neighborhood to realize how essential the bomb is to their national independence. They want the bomb most of all because Israel has the bomb and will attack any nation that even thinks of gaining military equality with them by getting it themselves.

By the way, Iran has every right as a sovereign nation to acquire nuclear weapons if it wants to. A boycott is one thing, but invading a nation whose defense policy we don’t like is an act of war. If we attack, we can have no moral objections to Iranian funding of international terror, assassination or any other of their pathetic responses to our aggression. Those who can’t admit the simple logic of this argument are, in effect, racists.

10 Thoughts:

Blogger pawlr said...

The fear here is that Iran is going to use their nuke as a first strike weapon, based on public comments from their leader who has said he wants to wipe Israel off the map.

The real question is: Does he mean it?

Note how Reagan used similarly threatening rhetoric during the cold war: "Evil Empire", yadda yadda. This is all game theory and boilerplate Nuclear deterrence tactics - the idea is to bluff that you would be capable of making a first strike - in order to
put your enemy on the defensive.

As Demo points out - its unreasonable to believe that nation states, just because they're theocratic, or act similarly, are somehow not "rational actors" when it comes to nuclear deterrence. Its also supremely rational, for example, for Iran to want to build a nuclear weapon as deterrence and act as they are now.

The question comes down to this - if it were the U.S. in the same spot, wouldn't we want the bomb too? Israel getting the bomb always meant this would happen.

War with Iran won't help this inherent imbalance - and will just create more radical demagogues, and a more compelling case for Syria, or Jordan, or any other country in the region to keep trying to make a bomb!

What other lesson could a rational state possibly draw from our aggressive policy of "preemtive war"?

Monday, January 16, 2006 9:34:00 AM  
Blogger Demotiki said...

Here here! If you read up on the comments made by the "crazy" leader of Iran in non-western media, they appear to be far less radical then we are told. I doubt very seriously that he is crazy enough to destroy his country with a "preemptive attack." Israel's nuclear retaliation would in no way be harmed by such an attack anyway. They have missiles on ships, in bunkers and "in the air" at all times. Even in the Reagan days the idea that one side could destroy the other's missiles on the ground with a "first strike" was known to be complete rubbish. To suggest that Iran could do so with an extremely limited number of bombs and missiles is pure fantasy.

Iran wants the bomb to protect itself, not to harm others. Without the bomb Iran is at the mercy of Israel and the United States, two nations which are well known for their own preemptive war, and geographic expansion. There is no indication that Iran would like to expand their borders using the threat of a nuclear strike, however, Israel has increased its size dramatically through military conquest and has held onto that land by using the threat of a nuclear holocaust. In minutes Israel could kill 100 million Arabs, that awesome power has protected Israel for decades, why wouldn’t the Arabs or Persians want the same? Why shouldn’t they have the same? The only answer is that Israel doesn’t want them to have the bomb. That answer may be good enough to satisfy the pro-Israel media in the US, and many average Americans, but it is so clearly unfair that it will do much to inflame the Arab street. They know the score, and they don’t like being treated as second class citizen of the world. If we want them to respect our rights, we have to respect theirs. Otherwise, buckle-in for 100 more years of terror and an American Police state. And for what? So that Palestine can remain Jewish? No thanks, that’s not our battle and it’s not just anyway. Get America out of the Middle East. We don’t need that oil anyway if we only invest in alternative energy. Dump Israel now!

Monday, January 16, 2006 11:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Racist? Who is making a racial argument? Cultural, perhaps. But racial? How so? It seems that this "racism" word gets thrown around so carelessly these days.

Monday, January 16, 2006 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger pawlr said...

Whether its racist or not is pretty much semantics. But there's clearly a sloppy idea in the minds of most Westerners that "those a-rabs are nuts" which is informing the issue.

One thing I'd like to learn is whether Ahmadinejad recent espousal of mahdaviat eschatology in the U.N. is for real or if this is part of a strategy to present himself as credible, or just more bloviating from the right.

Vanguarding for the apocalypse, as many wingnut Christianists in our country do ("Left Behind" millenial freaks), scare me no matter who's doing it. Now that would be a legitimate reason to fear that Iran wouldn't act rationally in a balance of power situation, as some have suggested.

Basically, the radical freaks in our own government are playing dangerous games with their counterparts in the muslim world, and threatening to end the whole party known to us today as the civilized world.

Expect the fear-mongering to escalate as the 2006 elections draw nearer while real-world problems (global warming, poverty, bird flu) go on the back burner.

Monday, January 16, 2006 2:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't the assumption that no one can handle the bomb?

Those countries who got in before we realized this have been granted quasi-benevolent grandfather status. Those nations are tasked with keeping new upstarts like Iran from grabbing fresh missiles off the tree of knowledge.

The focus should be on the realpolitik that lurks beneath the racist rhetoric.

Monday, January 16, 2006 5:17:00 PM  
Blogger Demotiki said...

The assumption behind the argument for non-proliferation is not that we can't trust anyone with the bomb, but rather that we can't dominate the world if everyone has the great equalizer. America hegemony is threatened if the countries we would like to push around have the bomb. Can you imagine the US invading Iraq if Sadam really had WMD? Never. The fact that we invaded is the best proof available that Sadam never had WMDs. Take North Korea, they are the thousand times worse than Iraq ever was. They have killed literally millions of their people through poverty and poor central planning. They could take out Souel in ten minutes if they wanted to, with conventional weapons. Have we done anything there? No. And why? Because they have us by the balls.

Besides, the United States actively supported Israel in its drive for nuclear supremacy in the Middle East. Israel stole the secrets of how to make their bomb from us, and yet we continue to support them.

There is no legitimate reason to believe that support for Israel is anything more than a domestic political choice for American politicians. Supporting Israel has dramatically worsened our relations with countries that are far more important to our national security. When Truman proposed the creation of Israel on Palestinian lands, Marshall said it was the greatest foreign policy mistake the President could make. Truman went ahead and did it for two reasons. He wanted to make up for the holocaust, and he wanted the support of Jewish Americans, particularly those who were running CBS, NBC, ABC and the New York Times. Marshall warned him that dispossessing the Palestinians and shoving the new Israeli state down the throats of already pissed off Arabs would be a major mistake. Unfortunately, Truman was more of politician than a strategic thinker. He felt that he was doing a great thing for the world and for his political future. Strangely, he was wrong on both counts.

Monday, January 16, 2006 5:43:00 PM  
Blogger Palmer said...

I think you might be conflating the bomb with Israel here. The right of Israel (or Palestine) to exist, is a question that needs to be considered independently of nuclear proliferation.

If Israel didn't have the bomb, the US would be right in opposing its acquisition of that technology. Since they (and the Russians and the Chinese) already have the bomb, we're best served by preventing others from acquiring it.

You're right in understanding the power of the haves versus the have-nots, and the opportunism of choosing the correct have-nots to single out, but the nuclear question and the Israel question are two distinct things. The problem is that when looking at the Middle East these days, it's difficult to view the two distinctly.

Monday, January 16, 2006 11:22:00 PM  
Blogger Demotiki said...

Palmer,

The Israel thing and the bomb thing are not distinct. The fact that Iran wants the bomb, is directly connected to Israel having the bomb. The US essentially gave Israel the bomb by protecting the Israeli nuclear program and for passively allowing Israel to acquire nuclear secrets through espionage.

Everyone in the Arab world knows this. They understand that we let Israel get the bomb so that they could hold it over the heads of the Arabs and continue to hold onto Palestinian, Syrian, Egyptian and Jordanian lands. The bomb gave them a veto over any and all negotiations about an end to Israeli military expansion. The bomb in effect gave them real estate that they then settled. No Arab nation would go to war with Israel to get back their lands knowing that Israel could nuke them. That's why we allowed Israel the bomb, to "stabilize" the region.

Today Iran wants the bomb because they want to protect their territorial integrity in a very similar way. They want to avoid an American invasion that might come in a year or in ten. They have every right to argue that with the bomb they would be safer. After all, what do nations have militaries for? Surely the highest purpose of a military is to defend a nation's teritorial integrity. What is wrong with Iran having the same right that other nations of the world have?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 9:25:00 AM  
Blogger Palmer said...

The idea is to contain the bomb. We couch this as preventing nuclear proliferation, and in part, that is what we're doing, but the reality is that we're protecting the interests of the haves at the expense of the have-nots.

Our best bet is to provide incentives to not pursuing a nuclear programme, but that's a tall order for many of the reasons you point out.

Getting back to your original point, though, it's not necessarily racist to hold the view that we should limit access to the bomb as long as that same reasoning is applied to all nations, Arab and otherwise.

The reality is that disempowered nations will pursue nuclear technology for their own advancement regardless of whether they would ever deploy them as weapons. The same problem is evident in Pakistan, India, North Korea, etc. The problem is that legitmacy as a global power is tied to nukes. Until that changes, the nuclear issues we're running into with Iran will continue to flare up all over the globe.

The danger with Iran is the instability of the region compounded with the fact that Israel already has the bomb. Although India-Pakistan's and the Koreas ain't picnics either...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 1:04:00 PM  
Blogger Demotiki said...

Palmer,

If the idea is that we can’t allow any more nations to possess the bomb, we need to find another way to incentivize would-be atomic nations to forego their nuclear ambitions. That’s the sticky point! We are not neutral actor on the international stage. We have our own objectives, securing oil, protecting the ethnic group that dominates our national media corporations, etc. When we step into a situation like that between Iran and Israel, everyone knows the baggage we bring to the discussion. They all know that we support Israel “no matter what,” and that we have serious problems with Iran. How can we seriously contend in an international setting that our demands are uninfluenced by domestic or historical considerations? We can’t.

I am not sure I agree with the idea that non-proliferation is better for the world. I suspect that the opposite is true. Anyone who has played Civilization III knows that technological advances tend to promote warfare. Geopolitics are periodically revolutionized by advances fashioned in the laboratories of the great nations. The bomb, however, represents the end of this cycle to some extent. It is the great equalizer. Any nation with enough bombs can protect itself permanently from outside influence, resting assured that any attack will be repulsed with overwhelming strength. Other than Israel, no nuclear power has ever used its nuclear weapons to back up a conventional expansion of its territory. I suspect that if every nation in the world had the bomb, there would be more peace. The bomb makes international war too costly. Business doesn’t like that. I support the complete internationalization of nuclear weapons. As long as a state isn’t totally bonkers (like the Taliban) I can’t see any argument why they shouldn’t have the bomb.

Having said this, we should be very careful that terrorists don’t get the bomb. This is simply done. We must secure all ex-soviet weapons. This is simple to do, and essential. No fledgling nuclear nation is going to give up one if its bombs, but some Siberian scientist freezing his gonads off might. Buy the fuckin’ things if you must, but get them under wraps ASAP.

Enough of my rants, when are we playing poker? I need the money.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 8:26:00 PM  

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