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July 25, 2007


It's a little weird to watch conservative columnists present the Iran's recent behavior as sheer, reckless thuggery, rather than a series of calculated responses to Western actions. The four Western activists detained, for instance, were detained not long after revelations that the US government is pursuing a $75 million democracy promotion plan explicitly aimed at destabilizing the Iranian regime. If, scaling up for population, an avowedly hostile nation revealed they were funneling $450 million to groups hostile to the American government for the sole purpose of changing our system, is it unlikely that we would, in some way, respond?

And if, shortly thereafter, it was reported that, simultaneously, this hostile nation's intelligence agency was running a covert operation that "include[d] a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions," is it again so crazed to imagine we might detain some employees of that nation's democracy-promoting non-profits? You may not like the move, but it's not particularly shocking.

And if that power had arrested our diplomats in Iraq, would you not expect that we'd make retaliatory moves? In this case, as Joe Klein points out, Iran actually retaliated cautiously, by detaining the British soldiers, knowing that the Brits would negotiate rather than move straight to missiles -- and that's why one of their diplomats was actually released in the deal.

Look, you can believe that every action undertaken by the US is pristinely moral, and every action of the Iranian government an absolute atrocity. But you shouldn't pretend that Iran's actions are completely mysterious, unpredictable, or unprovoked. And the Bush administration clearly doesn't believe so either. That's why they've engaged Iran in high-level talks on Iraq this week -- not the sort of cooperation you pursue with a nutty, untrustworthy nation.

July 25, 2007 in Iran | Permalink


That's why they've engaged Iran in high-level talks on Iraq this week -- not the sort of cooperation you pursue with a nutty, untrustworthy nation.

Frankly, I'm not sure what other choice Iran has. Oh wait, you're talking about Iran as "nutty" and "untrustworthy."

Posted by: Stephen | Jul 25, 2007 9:09:27 AM

there's more than enough nutty, untrustworthy behavior on all three sides of the tables (three separate tables formed into a triangle, I've heard).

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jul 25, 2007 9:55:24 AM

It's only weird if you don't know that conservatives believe a few things. One, America has the right and even the duty to do whatever it wants in the world. Slam crappy countries against the wall. Send helicopters and gunships unprovoked. Destabilize countries that did nothing to us.

Second, any response to those actions are grotesque, thuggish, scandalous acts of war and must be met with disproportionate force. The original actions that provoked those responses are not relevant. The only thing that matters is if those crappy countries bend over and take it. That is the *only* appropriate response from them. See point #1.

Third, diplomacy is not an effective tool for advancing US interests. Diplomacy is meant to be a reward for good behavior (for the definition of good behavior, see point #2). See, we won't talk to Iran about disbanding their nuke program until they disband their nuke program. That's the way diplomacy works. Of course, if they refuse to abandon their nuke program, see points #1 and #2.

Posted by: Joshua | Jul 25, 2007 10:11:05 AM

"Oh wait, you're talking about Iran as "nutty" and "untrustworthy.""

Seeing as Iran accused the U.S. of using squirrels as spies this week, 'nutty' does spring to mind.


Posted by: Sock Puppet of the Great Satan | Jul 25, 2007 12:18:21 PM

In addition, the hostile power has a history of messing with your government. Not enough Americans remember that the CIA fomented a coup against Iran's democratically elected head of state Mossadegh, but I'd bet it's known to most Iranians.

Posted by: Michael Bloom | Jul 25, 2007 12:54:09 PM

Policy makers need to perceive and deal with the world as it is. This is not true of the public, so there usually a considerable disconnect between action and rhetoric.

Posted by: rlaing | Jul 25, 2007 2:43:21 PM

All regimes get provocations all the time. What you are not understanding is the difference between the responses of those that have reasonable standards of justice, and grinding tyrannies like Iran. Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian Iranian photographer, provoked the mullahs four years ago by photographing the outside of Evin prison. For this she was jailed, gang raped and kicked to death. But she had provoked them, hadn't she?

Posted by: Yan D. Kamecki | Jul 25, 2007 3:54:09 PM

squirrels as spies..? Nutty, I dont think so, maybe just a little overconfident in our abilities. After all we do have publically known programs teaching seals, dolphins, and dogs to do recon for us.

Also it was announced recently that there is funding in the defense budget currently for embedding remote control circuitry into large insects such as moths. ..not so nutty.

The whole idea that you dont talk to those with whom you disagree, or even those you find 'nutty' is arrogant and absurd. Even in the Youtube debate I found the big deal made about obama's remarks to be pitiful. Talking doesnt mean you've agreed to anything, it means you're mature enough to defend your stance, and to question your opponents. There's no inherent promise of giving away the country.

Who knows, if they truly are nutty perhaps talking to them is the best way to expose this. If after a few meetings Iran were to publicly break off talks because the US refused to provide them with cheese from the moon.. it would prove revealing.

Posted by: dave b | Jul 25, 2007 9:36:26 PM

Perhaps it's just me, but I can't take Jeff Jacoby seriously. He's perhaps the worst conservative hack writing - I actually think the Globe employs him in order to cast conservatives in the worst possible light. You can always count on him to come up with something transparently stupid. Do even conservatives actually read him and quote him approvingly?

Posted by: Sam | Jul 25, 2007 10:30:55 PM

Yan: that's terrible. I mean, sure, completely innocent people get jailed and gang raped in the US all the time, but they generally survive the experience. Except the ones who get kicked to death, that is.

Posted by: ajay | Jul 26, 2007 5:35:55 AM

Should the USSR have attacked us for supplying the Afghanistan mujaheeden? I can't get a wingnut to answer that simple question.

Posted by: merlallen | Jul 26, 2007 7:02:54 AM

Do they get tortured and killed in US jails at the order of the government? You will probably say yes. Because you are what Lenin called a "useful idiot"

Posted by: Yan Kamecki | Jul 26, 2007 2:31:07 PM

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