Guardian journalists warn that attack on Iran would be “criminal stupidity”

Float in Dusseldorf featuring Ahmadinejad

Float in Dusseldorf featuring Ahmadinejad

The first part of this article was cross-posted at CifWatch.

I suppose they know whereof they speak since it takes one to know one.

Seamus Shameless Milne is another of those Guardian columnists who never met a dictator he couldn’t love and whose opposition to anything Western is visceral. His latest column asserts that an attack on Iran would be an act of criminal stupidity. However the only stupidity, criminal or otherwise, is his own.

Meanwhile, a US-Israeli stealth war is already raging on the ground, including covert assassinations of scientists, cyber warfare and attacks on military and missile installations. And Britain and France have successfully dragooned the EU into ramping up sanctions on Iran’s economic life-blood of oil exports as a buildup of western military forces continues in the Gulf.

Any of this could easily be regarded as an act of war against Iran

This is nonsense. This is what is known as preemption, an act which is entirely legal in the face of known threats.

If an attack is launched by Israel or the US, it would not just be an act of criminal aggression, but of wanton destructive stupidity. As Michael Clarke, director of the British defence establishment’s Royal United Services Institute, points out, such an attack would be entirely illegal: “There is no basis in international law for preventative, rather than pre-emptive, war.”

This Mr. Clarke does not make clear, or Milne does not bring any relevant quotes, to show the difference between pre-emptive and preventative.

From Dictionary.com:

1.of or pertaining to preemption.

2.taken as a measure against something possible, anticipated, or feared; preventive; deterrent: a preemptive tactic against a ruthless business rival.

And as I have pointed out before, preemptive attacks are indeed legal in the face of not only imminent attack  but also expected and threatened attack:

The proliferation of WMDs by rogue nations gave rise to a certain argument by scholars concerning preemption.[31][32][33] They argued that the threat need not be “imminent” in the classic sense and that the illicit acquisition of these weapons, with their capacity to unleash massive destruction, by rogue nations, created the requisite threat to peace and stability as to have justified the use of preemptive force. NATO’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General for WMD, Guy Roberts cited the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the 1998 US attack on a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant, (identified by US intelligence to have been a chemical weapons facility) and the 1981 Israeli attack on Iraq’s nuclear facility at Osirak as examples of the counter-proliferation self-help paradigm.[34] Regarding the Osirak attack, Roberts noted that at the time, few legal scholars argued in support of the Israeli attack but notes further that, “subsequent events demonstrated the perspicacity of the Israelis, and some scholars have re-visited that attack arguing that it was justified under anticipatory self-defense.”[35] Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, American forces captured a number of documents detailing conversations that Sadaam Hussein had with his inner sanctum.[36] The archive of documents and recorded meetings confirm that Hussein was indeed aiming to strike at Israel.[36] In a 1982 conversation Hussein stated that, “Once Iraq walks out victorious, there will not be any Israel.” Of Israel’s anti-Iraqi endeavors he noted, “Technically, they [the Israelis] are right in all of their attempts to harm Iraq.

Note what was said about Israel’s attack on Osirak, the international condemnations and the later reversal of opinion (not that Israel ever received an apology for the original condemnations).

The threats emanating from Iran, with its parades of missiles engraved “Marg bar Israel” -Death to Israel, the anti-Semitic Holocaust denial, the determination of Ahmadinejad to wipe Israel off the map (yes, he indeed did say it), not to mention its permanent proxy war against Israel conducted by Hezbollah and Hamas – all these amount to viable motivations for a legal pre-emptive attack, whether by Israel, the Western allies, or a coalition of them all.

In a similar article, Shashank Joshi, a researcher on the Middle East, writes that alarmism is driving the West into a war against Iran – as if the alarmism is not justified.

The first argument, that Iran is too crazy to be deterred, is historically untenable. Stalin’s Soviet Union was viewed in exactly the same terms. NSC-68, one of the most famous American intelligence assessments of the cold war, judged Moscow to be “animated by a new fanatic faith, antithetical to our own”, aimed at “domination of the Eurasian landmass”. That was the year after the Soviets’ first nuclear test. Mao Zedong, who was to acquire a bomb shortly thereafter, welcomed a nuclear war in which “imperialism would be razed to the ground, and the whole world would become socialist”.

But Joshi does not take into account, or deliberately ignores, the insane Iranian messianism, led by Ahmadinejad, which could be called Mahdi-ism – the wish for total war against the Infidel in order to bring about the advent of the Mahdi and the eradication of all non-Muslims.  Fanatic theocracies do not act on rational thought in the way Westerners do. Soviet and Chinese sabre-rattling cannot be considered on the same level as the Iranian war-mongering.  The Soviet and Chinese leaderships were not suicidal, but there certainly is a strain of suicidal messianism amongst the Iranian leadership.

Such a capability wouldn’t be the “existential threat” Israeli politicians have claimed. It might, of course, blunt Israel’s strategic edge. Or as Matthew Kroenig, the US defence secretary’s special adviser until last summer, spelled it out recently, a nuclear Iran “would immediately limit US freedom of action in the Middle East”. Which gets to the heart of the matter: freedom of action in the Middle East is the prerogative of the US and its allies, not independent Middle Eastern states.

I find Joshi’s dismissal of Israel’s concern about an existential threat frankly offensive. He is not the one sitting here in the Middle East waiting for bombs to fall on his head and his family.   Of course he does not care that Israel’s strategic edge would be blunted. After all, he writes for the Guardian. Anything that would weaken Israel is good as far as he and the Guardian are concerned.  He also seems to approve of the fact that a nuclear Iran would limit US freedom of action in the Middle East.

He goes on to bring several reasons why even if Iran does develop the Bomb it wouldn’t be such a bad thing, and Iran could be contained.

He accuses the West of unjustified alarmism:

The alarmist response to Iran’s nuclear programme reflects a failure of imagination and ignorance of history.

and claims that Iran can be contained.

But it is biased and closed-minded “journalists” like these who suffer from the real failure of imagination, who cannot imagine the dire straits the civilised world will find itself in if Iran becomes a nuclear power, and who refuse to see the disastrous implications, some of which are already being played out today in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They also suffer from an egregious ignorance of history. The primary lesson to be learned from all the previous wars,  including WWI and WWII, the Cold War and the current war against extremist Islam is that when dictators threaten destruction they usually carry out their threats.

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35 Responses to Guardian journalists warn that attack on Iran would be “criminal stupidity”

  1. Tim Haughton says:

    Cross posting my comment:

    “From Dictionary.com:

    Preemptive: of or pertaining to preemption…taken as a measure against something possible, anticipated, or feared.

    Preventive; deterrent: a preemptive tactic against a ruthless…rival.”

    Excellent! Whilst Dictionary.com might be what passes for legal education in these circles, for anyone wanting an international law perspective:

    Preventive warfare “goes beyond what is acceptable in international law” and “lacks legal basis”

    Shaw, Malcolm (2008). International Law (6th edn). Camrbidge: Cambridge University Press. p. 1140.

    Brownlie, Ian (2008). Principles of Public International Law. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 734

    States have no right to initiate preventive warfare, which is usually used to prevent changes to balances of power, rather than to defend against aggression.

    Preventive warfare, where not authorised by the UNSC constitutes a war of aggression, an act described by the Nuremberg tribunals as the supreme international crime.

    I love this blog’s kindergarten legal analyses.

    • anneinpt says:

      Preventive warfare “goes beyond what is acceptable in international law” and “lacks legal basis”

      You can cherry pick quotes as much as you like. It doesn’t change the facts.

      I can cherry pick facts too, as I did in article above:

      The proliferation of WMDs by rogue nations gave rise to a certain argument by scholars concerning preemption.[31][32][33] They argued that the threat need not be “imminent” in the classic sense and that the illicit acquisition of these weapons, with their capacity to unleash massive destruction, by rogue nations, created the requisite threat to peace and stability as to have justified the use of preemptive force

      It also appears that Israel already has a justifiable casus belli against Iran due to its genocidal threats:

      Speaking last October at a Tehran conference on “The World Without Zionism,” Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, referred to Israel as a “disgraceful blot” and called for it to be “wiped off the map.” This was not an isolated or idle threat. In the same speech, he defended Iran’s determination to press ahead with its nuclear program — which would give it the practical ability to achieve this result.

      Although Ahmadinejad’s bellicose statements were condemned by the United States and a number of its European allies, the condemnation was not followed up by a concerted diplomatic and legal effort in the U.N. Security Council. It ought to be, especially given the uncertain prospects of the council’s current consideration of Iran’s nuclear activities, further complicated by the just-announced offer of direct negotiations between Tehran and Washington.

      There is a good legal basis for such action. Ahmadinejad’s words clearly violate Article 2.4 of the U.N. Charter. This provision, to which Iran has agreed, requires all U.N. member states to “refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” Ahmadinejad’s specific formulation — wiping Israel off the map and prophesying a coming nuclear conflagration in which much of humanity would expire — also clearly entails a threat of committing genocide, which member nations are obliged, under the Genocide Convention, to prevent.

      But Ahmadinejad’s rant features a direct and unequivocal threat, and it gives Israel a valid casus belli — under both Article 51 (self-defense) of the U.N. Charter and customary international law — to use preemptive force as a means of ensuring that Iran cannot make good on its stated intentions.

      Indeed, the International Court of Justice, in a 1996 opinion analyzing the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons, found that use-of-force threats that violated Article 2.4 and were not otherwise justified under Article 51 also posed a threat to international peace and security, thereby further infringing the U.N. Charter. Since Israel has not committed aggression against Iran, Ahmadinejad’s statements cannot be justified as self-defense. They have, in fact, created a legally cognizable threat that can, and should, be addressed by the Security Council under its Chapter VII powers, which are concerned with threats to peace.

      And in any event, since the UN has shown its constant disregard for Israel’s national security, and as the historian and State Archivist Yaacov Lozowick wrote on a similar case:

      Just another example among many that international law may be useful when peaceful democratic states such as Iceland and Britain need to resolve disagreements about fishing rights in the Northern Atlantic, but it’s useless when coping with international conflicts.

      I really couldn’t give a hoot whether you think the level of discourse on my blog is at kindergarten or college level. Keep your disdain to yourself, and lecture us only when you are standing in an Israeli’s shoes on the frontline. Then we’ll see how brave you are.

      • Tim Haughton says:

        “You can cherry pick quotes as much as you like. It doesn’t change the facts.”

        Indeed. The UN, as well as the scholarly consensus are all in agreement: preventive warfare is illegal. Sucks, right?

        “Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, referred to Israel as a “disgraceful blot” and called for it to be “wiped off the map.””

        Except, of course, that he didn’t. It’s a lie, and, it has to be said, a well known lie.

        “This was not an isolated or idle threat.”

        It wasn’t a threat full stop, as anyone who follows these things will tell you.

        • anneinpt says:

          It is not a lie and he indeed said it. And meant it.

          It is not a lie and not an isolated threat or statement. You haven’t read one link in any of the comments on CiFWatch, have you? You’re a coward who is too afraid to face the truth.

          If MemriTV videos are not kosher enough for you, here’s an AP video:

          “preventive warfare is illegal. Sucks, right?”
          No, to be honest, it doesn’t suck at all. As I quoted in my various links, it is a) not illegal; and b) if push comes to shove, Israel will not give a rat’s ass as to what is considered legal by the High and Mighty antisemitic UN, which has several murderous dictatorships sitting in its loaded Security Council. Israel will take what action needs to be taken in order to survive, and let the whingers gnash their teeth afterwards.

          • Tim Haughton says:

            “It is not a lie and not an isolated threat or statement.”

            It has been debunked so many times it’s no longer funny. MEMRI, has it happens, translated the phrase in question, “بايد از صفحه روزگار محو شود” as “this regime” must be “eliminated from the pages of history.”

            Arash Norouzi more accurately translates it as “the Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.”

            Juan Cole similarly translated it as “the Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e eshghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad).”

            Shiraz Dossa eloquently put it:

            “Ahmadinejad was quoting the Ayatollah Khomeini in the specific speech under discussion: what he said was that “the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time.” No state action is envisaged in this lament; it denotes a spiritual wish, whereas the erroneous translation – “wipe Israel off the map” – suggests a military threat. There is a huge chasm between the correct and the incorrect translations. The notion that Iran can “wipe out” U.S.-backed, nuclear-armed Israel is ludicrous.”

            “No, to be honest, it doesn’t suck at all. As I quoted in my various links”

            You quoted nothing that looked to be of legal character. I quoted two respected international legal texts, you could also have the definitive opinion of the UN itself:

            http://www.un.org/secureworld/report.pdf

            So as I said, the consensus is clear. Preventive war is illegal.

            • anneinpt says:

              You are getting tiresome Haughton. Please run along and spout your bigoted garbage elsewhere. You can quibble about the semantics as much as you want, but whether Iranian leaders said they want to wipe Israel off the map, wipe the regime out of the pages of time, or the Israeli regime out of Jerusalem, or any combination of the above, it amounts to the same thing: they are genocidal in their intent. Or do you deny that Ahmadinejad in the video I posted was calling Death to Israel? Was that another Zionist plot?

              Commenters like Israel-firster Juan Cole and Arash Norouzi who writes on extreme left blogs like Antiwar.com persuade no one. You are pathetic, tying yourself into a pretzel in your effort to justify a fanatic theocratic genocidal regime.

              Preventive war is illegal.

              I expect your condemnation of this in 3…2…1.

              Oh wait, that’s Iran doing the threatening. It doesn’t count does it? Or I suppose we can expect a denial from you that Iran is threatening preemptive action. It must be a mistranslation. Yeah, that’s it.

              • Tim Haughton says:

                “whether Iranian leaders said they want to wipe Israel off the map, wipe the regime out of the pages of time, or the Israeli regime out of Jerusalem, or any combination of the above, it amounts to the same thing: they are genocidal in their intent.”

                That can only be true if regime change and genocide are the same thing. Again, the language of cowardice.

                “I expect your condemnation of this in 3…2…1.”

                I condemn all acts of aggression, and do so without reservation. But pre-emptive warfare is legal. Preventive warfare is not. Again, try learning some international law.

              • Ariadne says:

                He’s just been outed by Gerald on CiF Watch. He’s the doodoo: so bad he’s to Silverstein!

                • Ariadne says:

                  No HTML? He is persona non grata to Silverstein!

                  • anneinpt says:

                    Wow! That takes him to the lowest of the low. I didn’t know such a depth could be reached!

                    By the way, you can use html in comments here. I have no way of listing html tags above or below the comment box, but they work same as at CifWatch. Thanks for your comments BTW and welcome to the blog. 🙂

  2. cba says:

    Oh you lucky girl, you’ve been visited by the ridiculous dubitante, he of the “Israel has never made any concessions because if people want to make war on Israel and end up losing land because of it, they should have a do-over without any penalty” fame.

    What an odious little Jew-hater he is…

    • anneinpt says:

      What an odious little Jew-hater he is

      Yes indeed. I thought about ignoring his comment but decided it must not be left unanswered, if only for passing traffic.

    • Ariadne says:

      Apologies, cba. I posted before reading yours.

      • cba says:

        Heh, if that’s the worst thing you ever do, then you’re pretty much a saint! I made the connection because he made pretty much the identical comment there under his other nick.

  3. Mr Haughton: Indeed. The UN, as well as the scholarly consensus are all in agreement: preventive warfare is illegal.

    How many of this “scholarly consensus” have ever fought in a war? A war that might have been prevented by pre-emption, rather than cowering neutrality until the blood ran upon their own shores?

    To put it another way, Mr Haughton, nobody gives a shit about your scholarly drivel about the legality of war.

    Apologies for the “French” … it just fits.

    • anneinpt says:

      Heh. :-). Thanks Aridog. You can always be relied upon to cut to the chase.

      • Haughton’s whole premise is contrary to my modified golden rule: Do unto others what they would unto to you, but DO IT FIRST.

        • anneinpt says:

          Silly Aridog. That’s illegal according to Haughton and the UN. You’ve got to wait until you’ve been beaten, preferably dead, and only then may you legally defend yourself.

          It’s beyond pathetic. It’s even beyond absurd. It lacks all logic and historical accuracy. It is wishful thinking of the extreme liberal ivory tower bent.

        • Tim Haughton says:

          That’s the language of cowardice. Why on Earth would Iran attack the regional nuclear superpower which is backed by the global nuclear super power?

    • Tim Haughton says:

      This isn’t pre-emptive warfare, it is preventive warfare. It is designed to prevent a shift in the balance of power, and it is illegal under international law for very good reason.

      “How many of this “scholarly consensus” have ever fought in a war? A war that might have been prevented by pre-emption, rather than cowering neutrality until the blood ran upon their own shores?”

      Using that kind of childish reasoning, one could make an argument for attacking any country on Earth.

      “Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.” ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

      • Using that kind of childish reasoning, one could make an argument for attacking any country on Earth.

        Perhaps. If that country blathered on about the immorality of the mere existence of your country, provided weapons to attack you to your enemies, and in general resisted normal civilized behavior towards any dissent. Then, why not?

        Now, tell us, how many wars have you fought or served in otherwise? It’s not important if you have or have not, but your positions suggests you know little of war from any perspective other than some drafty tower. Your semantic gamesmanship with “preventative” versus “pre-emptive” is amusing … and dithering. War is immoral per se, but losing one is even worse. You do not win a war with politics or reducing the will to resist, you win it by eliminating the means to resist. Period.

        Been there, done that, got the tee shirt.

      • anneinpt says:

        This isn’t pre-emptive warfare, it is preventive warfare. It is designed to prevent a shift in the balance of power,

        Utter tosh. Israel is not looking for regime change, israel is not calling for all-out war. It is trying to prevent – or pre-empt – a lethal nuclear strike on its citizens. If that doesn’t classify as clear legal self-defense I don’t know what does.

        Please take your sophistries to your Arab friends and ask why they are declaring war on their own citizens, let alone Israel.

        • Tim Haughton says:

          So when the Israeli intelligence community, and all 16 US intelligence agencies tell you that Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program…you feel better informed?

          I know ignorant warmongering when I see it. Unfortunately, such people tend to view facts as inconveniences to be overcome.

          • anneinpt says:

            When and if Israel’s intel and all 16 US intels say that, then I will stop worrying. Maybe.

            You would not know ignorant warmongering even if it bit you on the nose. You cannot see it in Ahmadinejad’s blood-curdling videos, in his proxy war against Israel via Hezbollah and Hamas, so why should I or any other sentient being have the slightest interest in your theories?

            In your opinion the only just war is one committed by murderous dictatorships against Western regimes. Everything else is illegal. OK, gotcha. Got your message. Skedaddle.

            • Tim Haughton says:

              “When and if Israel’s intel and all 16 US intels say that, then I will stop worrying. Maybe.”

              Then you’re in luck. In the last National Intelligence Estimate, and the 2007 NIE all conclude that no evidence had been seen of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. In spite of all the penetrations, the satellite imagery, the sensors, the monitoring, the intelligence assets, not one piece of evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program.

              There’s a good article on the NIE here:

              http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/06/06/110606fa_fact_hersh

              There’s an article on the Israeli perspective here:

              http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/barak-israel-very-far-off-from-decision-on-iran-attack-1.407953

              To quote:

              “The Israeli view is that while Iran continues to improve its nuclear capabilities, it has not yet decided whether to translate these capabilities into a nuclear weapon – or, more specifically, a nuclear warhead mounted atop a missile. Nor is it clear when Iran might make such a decision.”

              Here’s Obama’s defence secretary:

              http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3460_162-57354647/face-the-nation-transcript-january-8-2012/

              “”Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.” He added that the U.S. was “putting diplomatic and economic pressure” on Iran in order “to make sure that they do not make the decision to proceed with the development of a nuclear weapon.””

              Just try to calm down and stop jumping at shadows.

              • anneinpt says:

                Please save your patronizing tone for your academic anarchist buddies. You are not living on the front line. You do not hear blood-curdling calls for your destruction from a Muslim fanatic, and you do not hear those calls justified by anarchists who would rejoice at your country’s destruction. You do not have a bomb shelter in your house. You do not have gas masks in your cupboard for all your family. You do not have air raid drills practicing getting into your shelter within minutes if not seconds. You and your sons do not serve in any army, reserve or standing. You do not face potential terrorist attacks every time you go shopping or your kids to school. You have not fought in any wars. Your co-religionists (assuming you have any) do not have to have their places of worship guarded around the world (not just in Israel) against attack from Iranian-sponsored terrorists.

                For every link that you provide, I can provide a counter-link. But I have a life outside of this blog and it appears that you don’t. I will cite just one, from the IAEA itself which declares (from page 8 onwards) that :

                the Agency has become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile, about which the Agency has regularly received new information.


                43. The information indicates that Iran has carried out the following activities that are relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device:
                • Efforts, some successful, to procure nuclear related and dual use equipment and materials by military related individuals and entities (Annex, Sections C.1 and C.2);
                • Efforts to develop undeclared pathways for the production of nuclear material (Annex, Section C.3);
                • The acquisition of nuclear weapons development information and documentation from a clandestine nuclear supply network (Annex, Section C.4); and
                • Work on the development of an indigenous design of a nuclear weapon including the testing of components (Annex, Sections C.5–C.12).
                44. While some of the activities identified in the Annex have civilian as well as military applications, others are specific to nuclear weapons.
                45. The information indicates that prior to the end of 2003 the above activities took place under a structured programme. There are also indications that some activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device continued after 2003, and that some may still be ongoing.

                [Summary, page 10] 53. The Agency has serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme. After assessing carefully and critically the extensive information available to it, the Agency finds the information to be, overall, credible. The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device. The information also indicates that prior to the end of 2003 these activities took place under a structured programme, and that some activities may still be ongoing.

                And now go and read all 25 pages.

                In any event, for a clever academic as you claim to be from your sneering disdainful attitude, you have a remarkable ability to miss the point. I have not been calling for war, and neither has Israel. I have been simply justifying a potential pre-emptive strike by Israel on Iran’s nuclear sites.

                And with this I declare this discussion closed. You are not welcome here any more.

              • @ Haughton: … Just try to calm down and stop jumping at shadows.

                Will we soon be treated to you or a naive politician stepping down an airplane ramp with a piece of paper in their hand, alleging “peace in our time?”

                As for US SECDEF Panetta’s statement you cited, let’s see a bit more of it …

                “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that’s what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is do not develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us.”

                Note he restates the reporter’s question to himself, changing it a bit, then answers it with qualifications. That is what political appointees do is it not, assert then qualify? Leaves them with an “out” should the worst happen … either ” We’re shocked…” or “I told you so…”

                Not something my gut instinct tends to rely on as fail safe … as I’ve said, been there, done that, got the tee shirt, dealing with official pronouncements (light at the end of the tunnel, et al) versus reality on the ground. Today, our military has revised Rules of Engagement, versus my time, but derived from that time, more or less, where some guy totting a mortar tube, an RPG, or AK in a civilian environment and civilian clothes is not the enemy, unless he aims said weapon directly at you. A pacifist should admire such restrained ROE’s … which in my opinion have too much Hollywood Gary Cooper in “High Noon” in them …e.g., the bad guy has to “draw” first, then the good guy can respond. Man, I’d love the advocates of this actually face it real time. I really want to know how you determine when somebody is “aiming” at you with a mortar … usually from concealment out of direct line of sight. Since we can’t see them aiming at us, he’s not aiming at us, right? Until the first round lands we just don’t know with empirical certainty. Say hey, be the first on your block to get Mom a gold star for the front window.

                The fundamental issue is that neither Panetta knows, nor do we, nor do you, with tangible certainty, that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon capability … or Not. We are allowed reasonable presumptions, unless irredeemably pacifist (those who wait until the blood runs on their own doorstep), that given Iran exports an energy excess now, while arguing that they need nuclear produced energy for their own consumption. What gives with that? We might also presume ill intent with Iran’s blustering about closing the Straits of Hormuz, among their other provocative announcements.

                Finally, in my heart I want to believe as you apparently do. My gut refuses to let me. That said, your position enlightens the conversation none-the-less, by demonstrating the naiveté our enemies rely upon.

  4. Brian Goldfarb says:

    And Haughton is so up-to-date that the last item on his blog is dated 5 September 2011. Presumably, this means that we are obliged to take notice of his meanderings through international law, especially given that he says of himself that he is “a physicist and the owner of a successful software business. Tim acts as a consultant for Microsoft Research and works on projects within the realm of scholarly communication.” Yeah, right, that’s a real qualification in international law. As Anne notes, she, or anyone, can cherry-pick comments, quotes and facts. Doesn’t make them right. But if one is going to get down into the bear-pit, make sure your claws are sufficiently sharpened.

    I noted elsewhere, when commenting on Isaac Deutscher’s comments (from an essay in his book “The Non-Jewish Jew”) on the 6-Day war (and while on a visit to Israel at that) that the surrounding states had posed no real threat to Israel, that he failed to state what he would have considered a credible existential threat. I mused that he might have been convinced by Egyptian tanks crossing the border into the Negev, or Jordan’s Arab Legion driving towards Tel Aviv, or, perhaps, Syrian troops swarming down the Golan Heights into the Huleh Valley, and that Israel’s tacticians and strategists had engaged in a pre-emptive strike that no-one ever argued was misconceived – that is, Israel actually faced an existential threat. Deutscher never had the opportunity to engage in debate with sceptics of his view, as he died just a month or so later.

    Presumably, in the same vein, Haughton would not be convinced by anything short of a mushroom cloud rising over Jerusalem and/or Tel Aviv. Fortunately, no-one gives a damn what he believes to be the facts in this case, and certainly not either the Israeli High Command or the government of Israel. He is merely, as the Americans might say, flapping his gums in the mistaken belief that those who comment here will be overawed by his command of international law and his powers of argument.

    In his dreams.

  5. reality says:

    I wonder Haughton what your reaction would be after Iran wipes Israel off the map(G-d forbid) as Saddam hussein in the past tried to do (you see we have history to learn from) & then would turn its nuclear warheads on USA or Europe. i would really prefer it to be the other way around. Maybe we could persuade Ahmadinejad to wipe USA & Europe off the map first & then we in Israel will think about “preventing “him from further murderous acts. How would the world react if that was the case? mayhem would break out & the planes & bombs would’ve been off the ground before anyone could blink. But sadly no one gives a **** about Israel so we will take care of ourselves thank you very much!

  6. David inPT says:

    There once was a fellow called Haughton
    Who insistently wrote down his thoughts on
    His definition of pre-emption
    As opposed to prevention
    Whilst in Israel we simply just fought on.

  7. Roxymuzak says:

    Well done Anneinpt. An inside the distance win over the forces of Mordred above.
    Their arguments are right up there with the Neville Chamberlain “peace in our time” school of idiocy.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thanks for the vote of confidence :-).

      My only quibble is that Neville Chamberlain had England’s best interests at heart even though he was sorely misguided. But Mordred above most definitely does not have Israel’s best interests at heart. The opposite in fact.

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