Saturday, March 14, 2015

Last Call For Endless War

You'll always be able to find people paid ridiculous amounts of money to advocate the invasion and regime change of some Middle Eastern country, but this time around it's Iran.

The logical flaw in the indictment of a looming “very bad” nuclear deal with Iran that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered before Congress this month was his claim that we could secure a “good deal” by calling Iran’s bluff and imposing tougher sanctions. The Iranian regime that Netanyahu described so vividly — violent, rapacious, devious and redolent with hatred for Israel and the United States — is bound to continue its quest for nuclear weapons by refusing any “good deal” or by cheating.

This gives force to the Obama administration’s taunting rejoinder: What is Netanyahu’s alternative? War? But the administration’s position also contains a glaring contradiction. National security adviser Susan Rice declared at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference before Netanyahu’s speech that “a bad deal is worse than no deal.” So if Iran will accept only a “bad deal,” what is President Obama’s alternative? War?

Obama’s stance implies that we have no choice but to accept Iran’s best offer — whatever is, to use Rice’s term, “achievable” — because the alternative is unthinkable.

But should it be? What if force is the only way to block Iran from gaining nuclear weapons? That, in fact, is probably the reality. Ideology is the raison d’etre of Iran’s regime, legitimating its rule and inspiring its leaders and their supporters. In this sense, it is akin to communist, fascist and Nazi regimes that set out to transform the world. Iran aims to carry its Islamic revolution across the Middle East and beyond. A nuclear arsenal, even if it is only brandished, would vastly enhance Iran’s power to achieve that goal.

After Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, we're still talking about a dangerous, stupid, and bloody war that will cost us trillions and another lost economic decade.  And they learn nothing from the absolute, total, and complete failures of the past.

And finally, wouldn’t Iran retaliate by using its own forces or proxies to attack Americans — as it has done in Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia — with new ferocity? Probably. We could attempt to deter this by warning that we would respond by targeting other military and infrastructure facilities.

Nonetheless, we might absorb some strikes. Wrenchingly, that might be the price of averting the heavier losses that we and others would suffer in the larger Middle Eastern conflagration that is the likely outcome of Iran’s drive to the bomb
. Were Iran, which is already embroiled in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Gaza, further emboldened by becoming a “nuclear threshold state,” it would probably overreach, kindling bigger wars — with Israel, Arab states or both. The United States would probably be drawn in, just as we have been in many other wars from which we had hoped to remain aloof.

Yes, there are risks to military action. But Iran’s nuclear program and vaunting ambitions have made the world a more dangerous place. Its achievement of a bomb would magnify that danger manyfold. Alas, sanctions and deals will not prevent this.

"War's going to happen anyway, thousands will die anyway, might as well be on our terms". 

We've learned nothing.

The Oversharing Economy

Finally, a smartphone app that works as intended.

(It's fake but it's still brilliant.)

America's Default Mode Is Broken

Our 2014 elections have assured me that our Republican leaders in Congress will learn to govern any time now. I mean, what could possibly go wr...OH WAIT.

The Hill reports this morning that another “tense standoff,” one similar to the chaos that erupted around Department of Homeland Security funding, is likely to unfold around the need to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, which is set to run low on funding this spring. Business groups — and the Obama administration — are warning of disaster if funding for ongoing infrastructure projects evaporates, while conservative groups are insisting Republicans agree to devolve infrastructure back to the states. Yet John Boehner is already on record saying he wants to replenish infrastructure funding. He just hasn’t said how it should be paid for. Sound familiar? 
In the case of infrastructure, it should be noted that the failure is bipartisan: Democrats have also been far too reluctant to support the obvious solution, i.e., a hike in the gas tax. 
But then there’s the debt ceiling, where the culpability for any crisis will be a lot clearer: It will lie with Republicans who oppose a clean debt limit hike. The Treasury Department is warning that we are close to hitting the debt limit, and is asking Congress rather laughably to “address this mater without controversy or brinksmanship.” Mitch McConnell recently pledged that Republicans will not allow us to “default on the national debt, but in the very next breath, he added that he hoped a debt ceiling hike “might carry some other important legislation that we can agree on in connection with it,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. 
GOP leaders may fully intend to fund infrastructure and avoid default. But the battle over Homeland Security funding is a reminder: Even when they know exactly how these standoffs will end — with the stiff-arming of conservatives and the moving of must-pass legislation with the help of Democrats — they will postpone the inevitable for as long as possible, in an always-futile effort to persuade conservatives that they fought the good fight to the bitter end. Which suggests that the best case scenario is that ultimately, further crises will be avoided, but only after more bouts of messy, protracted, and (in the case of the debt ceiling in particular) destructive drama.

We are all thralls to the 18% of America who voted to keep the GOP in charge of Congress. The default mode of our country is hopelessly, stupidly broken, because MURICA.
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