Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Drums In The Deep

By Cernig

Like the first, solitary, drumbeat from the depth of Khazadh-Dhum, David Sanger's stenographic hackery in the NY Times about Iran's nuclear program is bringing out the orcs and trolls, all gibbering for war and bloodshed.

Israeli daily Haaretz has at least the sense to note that many Western experts challenge the veracity of Sanger's claims but fails to note that they are Sanger's rather than el-Baradei's - Sanger having shoehorned comments made before the fact by the IAEA chief into a form that looks like he was talking about the latest IAEA report. Even so, it warns ominously that "2007, or 2008 at the latest, marks the time when it will become clear whether Iran will have nuclear weapons, with all its implications for Israel, the broader Middle East and the international community."

The UK's Daily Telegraph, always a home to the neocon narrative for war with Iran, unsurprisingly makes no such note of contrary experts' views. Instead, they quote well-known war troll John Bolton:
Mr Bolton said: "It's been conclusively proven Iran is not going to be talked out of its nuclear programme. So to stop them from doing it, we have to massively increase the pressure.

"If we can't get enough other countries to come along with us to do that, then we've got to go with regime change by bolstering opposition groups and the like, because that's the circumstance most likely for an Iranian government to decide that it's safer not to pursue nuclear weapons than to continue to do so. And if all else fails, if the choice is between a nuclear-capable Iran and the use of force, then I think we need to look at the use of force."

..."If the choice is them continuing [towards a nuclear bomb] or the use of force, I think you're at a Hitler marching into the Rhineland point. If you don't stop it then, the future is in his hands, not in your hands, just as the future decisions on their nuclear programme would be in Iran's hands, not ours."
The Telegraph goes on to say that Bolton is still an influential figure in the White House [read, Cheney's office], where Bush himself signs on to the neocon Worm-Tongue fable that Ahmadinejad is a "21st Century Adolf Hitler".

And thus comes Norman Podhoretz, auditioning for the role of Balrog but only really making it to orc-drummer-in-chief. In four pages utterly devoid of hard data but replete with emotional innuendo, strawmen and unwarranted assumptions, Podhoretz makes the case for bombing Iran five minutes ago. He's preaching to the converted - no facts required - but it's difficult to work out whether he's channelling Bolton, Bolton's channelling Podhoretz or whether both are simply parroting rhetorical talking points flowing from some Dark Lord fount.

It's difficult to know where to start with Podhoretz' war cry, which begins with the claim that since we are already involved in Word War Four with all Moslems, bombing Iran is simply a new step in that war. In between comparing Islamization to a communist Finlandization that never actually happened - even in Finland - and admitting that an attack on Iran to prevent a supposed attack by WMD would mean actual and definite massive retaliation on Israel with WMD (yet curiously there's no mention of the fate of 150,000 G.I.'s in Shiite-controlled Iraq after Iran is bombed) he comes up with some other massively stupid arguments. Matt Yglesias was AWOL for a while due to pressures of real life, but his commenters did sterling duty catching up on much of it for him in response to his plea. Examples such as this:
The centerpiece of Podhoretz's "argument" seems to be that it's a given that if Iran gets the bomb, "we could wake up one morning to find that Iran is holding Berlin, Paris or London hostage to whatever its demands are then.” ... I gotta say, this is paranoid crap at the Hollywood-movie level. Any child of ten could come up with the obvious counterargument, which is that *we have nukes too* and such a hypothetical attack would be unlikely to go uncountered.

But the real genius of it is because Iran would strike us with nukes through a proxy, we wouldn't know it was them what done it. But we would know, because Men Who Can Think Clearly About Islamofascism always know unerringly when another nation is attacking us, so NPod would lead us to Iran, which we should attack without any evidence other than NPod's certainty, unless we are too spineless and weak and collapse in a heap in the corner muttering girlishly about "no evidence" and "wait until the facts are in" while the Islamofascists then sweep into Washington DC.
Or this, on the demonization of term-limited Ahhmadinejad who will have stopped being president by the time Iran could possibly develop nukes:
Podhoretz repeatedly makes assertions that presuppose that President Ahmadinejad is the chief executive of Iran, although in the Iranian system the officer with the title of 'President' is not the chief executive. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the actual chief executive of Iran, doesn't get a single mention. That's a remarkable omission.
Or this, on the lack of actual data to back his arguments:
Putting aside obvious falsehoods, all of Podhoretz's assertions are sourced thinly if at all. Already some observers are warning that by the end of the 21st century the whole of Europe will be transformed into a place to which they give the name Eurabia. There's a debate-stopper. Who would challenge so august an authority as 'some observers'? Then there's 'the British press'. What British press, exactly? The tabloids? Podhoretz doesn't say. The tone is set by the first sentence: Although many persist in denying it, I continue to believe . . . It's all about what Podhoretz believes, or claims to believe, not what he can support with evidence or argument. It's a tone of preaching to the choir, of 'take my word for it, folks.'
One can see that Podhoretz isn't really trying to convince anyone, he's just regurgitating existing "what everyone knows" war hype.

Yet two points stand out as shining examples of his intellectual paucity. The first is where he says that we must believe Bernard Lewis on the subject of nuclear deterrence as an option for containment - it won't work because fanatics can't be reasoned with - since Lewis is "the greatest authority of our time on the Islamic world" and yet later he tells us this "greatest authority" is wrong when he says sanctions will do the trick without the need for bombings. The other is where he describes Bush as "battered more mercilessly and with less justification than any other in living memory."

Yet, despite this inability (or perhaps deliberate shortsightedness) to see his own logical flaws and departures from consensus reality, expect Podhoretz war-drum rhythm tro be taken up by others all across the far-Right spectrum. You'll be seeing his talking points again and again in the weeks and months to come, presented as "what everyone knows".

All this enabled by David Sanger, who in his rush to appease his contacts in the administration forgot what it was to be a journalist.

Update Is there an echo in here?

John Hindraker of Powerline over at Newsbloggers:
"Bernard Lewis is our greatest living scholar of the Islamic world."
He goes on to praise Lewis' claim that the War on Terra would be going better if the US was like the old Soviet "evil empire" and targeted terrorist's families. I kid you not.

The ink was hardly dry on the Pod-persons screed and here's Hindrocket ripping him off already. What a noise machine!

But do we get to call him "Saint Bernard" Lewis now? Recall, this is the "greatest living scholar" who prophesized Iran would nuke Israel last August 22nd, using a secret horde of weapons.

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