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Is Iran Next After Iraq!

175216 Views 5049 Replies 122 Participants Last post by  bassetman
I guess some troops will be pulled out of Iraq if this comes to fruition! :eek: I can't help but see how Bush is further alienating us from the world...making America the country to hate! :( Following right along the book of Revelations....I hope and pray along the same lines that Bush realizes sometime before it's too late..that China and Russia are not our "friends"!

Journalist: U.S. planning for possible attack on Iran
White House says report is 'riddled with inaccuracies
Sunday, January 16, 2005 Posted: 9:23 PM EST (0223 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration has been carrying out secret reconnaissance missions to learn about nuclear, chemical and missile sites in Iran in preparation for possible airstrikes there, journalist Seymour Hersh said Sunday.

The effort has been under way at least since last summer, Hersh said on CNN's "Late Edition."

In an interview on the same program, White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett said the story was "riddled with inaccuracies."

"I don't believe that some of the conclusions he's drawing are based on fact," Bartlett said.

Iran has refused to dismantle its nuclear program, which it insists is legal and is intended solely for civilian purposes.

Hersh said U.S. officials were involved in "extensive planning" for a possible attack -- "much more than we know."

"The goal is to identify and isolate three dozen, and perhaps more, such targets that could be destroyed by precision strikes and short-term commando raids
," he wrote in "The New Yorker" magazine, which published his article in editions that will be on newsstands Monday.

Hersh is a veteran journalist who was the first to write about many details of the abuses of prisoners Abu Ghraib in Baghdad.

He said his information on Iran came from "inside" sources who divulged it in the hope that publicity would force the administration to reconsider

"I think that's one of the reasons some of the people on the inside talk to me," he said.

Hersh said the government did not answer his request for a response before the story's publication, and that his sources include people in government whose information has been reliable in the past.

Hersh said Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld view Bush's re-election as "a mandate to continue the war on terrorism," despite problems with the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Last week, the effort to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- the Bush administration's stated primary rationale for the war -- was halted after having come up empty.

The secret missions in Iran, Hersh said, have been authorized in order to prevent similar embarrassment in the event of military action there.

"The planning for Iran is going ahead even though Iraq is a mess," Hersh said. "I think they really think there's a chance to do something in Iran, perhaps by summer, to get the intelligence on the sites

He added, "The guys on the inside really want to do this."

Hersh identified those inside people as the "neoconservative" civilian leadership in the Pentagon. That includes Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith -- "the sort of war hawks that we talk about in connection with the war in Iraq."

And he said the preparation goes beyond contingency planning and includes detailed plans for air attacks:

"The next step is Iran. It's definitely there. They're definitely planning ... But they need the intelligence first."

Emphasizing 'diplomatic initiatives'

Bartlett said the United States is working with its European allies to help persuade Iran not to pursue nuclear weapons.

Asked if military action is an option should diplomacy fail, Bartlett said, "No president at any juncture in history has ever taken military options off the table."

But Bush "has shown that he believes we can emphasize the diplomatic initiatives that are under way right now," he said.

Hersh said U.S. officials believe that a U.S. attack on Iran might provoke an uprising by Iranians against the hard-line religious leaders who run the government. Similar arguments were made ahead of the invasion of Iraq, when administration officials predicted U.S. troops would be welcomed as liberators.

And Hersh said administration officials have chosen not to include conflicting points of view in their deliberations -- such as predictions that any U.S. attack would provoke a wave of nationalism that would unite Iranians against the United States.

"As people say to me, when it comes to meetings about this issue, if you don't drink the Kool-Aid, you can't go to meetings," he said. "That isn't a message anybody wants to hear."

The plans are not limited to Iran, he said.

"The president assigned a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other special forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as 10 nations in the Middle East and South Asia," he wrote.

Under the secret plans, the war on terrorism would be led by the Pentagon, and the power of the CIA would be reduced, Hersh wrote in his article.

"It's sort of a great victory for Donald Rumsfeld, a bureaucratic victory
," Hersh told CNN.

He said: "Since the summer of 2002, he's been advocating, 'Let me run this war, not the CIA. We can do it better. We'll send our boys in. We don't have to tell their local military commanders. We don't have to tell the ambassadors. We don't have to tell the CIA station chiefs in various countries. Let's go in and work with the bad guys and see what we can find out.'"

Hersh added that the administration has chipped away at the CIA's power and that newly appointed CIA Director Porter Goss has overseen a purge of the old order.

"He's been committing sort-of ordered executions'" Hersh said. "He's been -- you know, people have been fired, they've been resigning."

The target of the housecleaning at the CIA, he said, has been intelligence analysts, some of whom are seen as "apostates -- as opposed to being true believers."
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it makes me weary just reading this thread....doesn't anybody feel the least bit of OUTRAGE?
LANMaster said:
.....a potential enemy.....
i don't mean this personally LAN, but this phrase caught my strikes me as indicative of this administration's thinking re: policy in general, but foreign policy in is a thought process that starts with fear and mistrust about activities that are not so unlike our own, and then makes them different because they don't serve our interests anymore, and finally ends up condemning by questioning their peaceful intent.

it occurs to me that many praise this thought process in a round-a-bout way by reiterating over and over how no other country in the world will stand up to these kinds of activities, and how much of the rest of the world (our 'allies') support this thought process of ours, but are too weak to do it themselves.

and i'm reminded of bush's infamous line (to paraphrase)....'if you're not with us, your against us'....

and so led to wonder about fear and mistrust as motivators of policy, what it suggests about the reasons for allegiances, and what it might mean about the significance of being a 'potential enemy'
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LANMaster said:
"We Received Money and Arms from Syria and Iran"
not piling on, LAN

remember the domino theory? communism was gonna crush us if we let it make inroads ANYWHERE?

i believe the same thinking is at work here, only, as your avatar (very cool, btw) illustrates so well....we are just pouring fuel on the flames

as the buffalo springfield once sang...
"into your heart it will creep
it starts when you're always afraid"

imo...the considerations bantied about on this thread do not point to a strong america, but a weak one
angelize56 said:
Iran Speaks Up! Guess they heard the news too! ;) Iran Says It Has Military Might to Deter Attack


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izme said:
All I can say is, are you willing to send your children to Iran, for what our Government see's as a threat, and if they die there, was it worth it to lose your son or daughter? Maybe we should put these politicians on the front line first? How much more war can we endure and how long will the other powers that be, let us run amock like Alexander the great? Defensive actions to prevent the inevitable? Why not go after Saudi Arabia too? Hell, why stop there? Canada has rich oil reserves :D
eggsaxactly :up: ....... this stinks of empire building (control)....the school yard bully, or the all star athlete (depending on your pov) in a pissing contest with some testosterone nemisis...there is no end to the list of "potential enemies" in the world, if you set it up as an armed camp.

if you're one to see the unrest in iraq as simple terrorism, then our efforts to curb terrorism have been an absymal failure, compounding the those who would scoff and point out how it's "localized", at least, i can only shake my head at the profoundly egocentric pov.

i stand on my astonishment at so little outrage :mad:
angelize56 said:
^^ iltos: Hmmm.....are you comparing me with LAN...or just making a political statement with that avatar? :p :D
purely political, angel. :p ....tho methinks the articles you're posting on this thread are feeding the fuel of my tough for me to come to grips with policies created out of fear.
LANMaster said:
Outrage over what?
Have we attacked Iran? :confused:
LOL....a very tactful way to say "get a grip" :up:

911...thousands of innocent people die....we are outraged and vow justice

afganistan....breeding ground of terrorism, the glitter dome of OBL...we liberate that country from the taliban, as a part of our bringing OBL to justice...then chase him into the mountains, hunting him.....

^^^^this, to me, is the war on terrorism

iraq....a megalomanic that had outlived his unadmitted embarrassement, and an easy target, cause hussein was an overblown small fry with visions of grandeur....MUCH more noteworthy than OBL, who continues to prove himself really intelligent and invisible to our high tech we put the war on terrorism on the back burner (my pov) to do a little clean up in the region...oh yeah, and as long as we're at it, let bring "freedom" (our version) to these poor, oppressed people....they'll love it

iran....well, shoot, some successes in iraq, some failure, too....this whole democracy thing is elusive.....but we'll continue to chase it into the mountains, hunting it (it must be around here somewhere)....but, look, as long as where here and throwing our weight around.....

and this is what it feels like, LAN....adding layer upon layer to a half baked cassarole loosely called the war on terrorism.....

i hear your pov, and don't mean to present my outrage as taking issue with it......your responses are thoughtful, reasonable and measured.....

but i don't feel at all reasonable and measured about is almost like the specter of hussein hangs over the region, and anyone seeking to bring order to it, for whatever noble or ignoble purpose, is subject to the influence of his madness.....

either that, or bush went into iraq to fight his own shadow :rolleyes: :(
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LANMaster said:
Looks like Seymore Hersh is the one spewing the fears. Not the Administration.
i can't agree with that...while the administration's response may well be true, in the sense that he has drawn some erroneous, even over the top, conclusions, he didn't write the article in a vacuum.....

there is admittedly a lot of politics at work here....and why is that necessary?....are we the people too stupid to understand the rationale at work?

or are we too intelligent to accept it?
LANMaster said:
Good question. :)

The Administration denies any such actual preparations are in the works.
But if you were President, wouldn't you have people working on contingencies for any likely threat from Iran & NK ????

I submit to you that this is all blown out of proportion by Hersh, or a clandestine deliberate leak by the DOD to make the Iranians think twice about her nuclear aspirations. If the latter is the case, it apparently failed. I tend to believe the former. Hersh has a history of anti-Republican hysteria. I submit this is all about him regardless the damage it does with our relationship with Iran. :mad:

Just my opinion. :)
if i were president (god help us) four years would see me impeached inside of a year....if that didn't happened, we'd either all be dead by the end of my first term, or this madness would end by the end of my second one..... :D
izme said:
you brought up an interesting idea for a question, when should we use pre-emptive nukes?
that our human brains, gifted with so much logic and imagination, can even concieve of a rational scenario that would again justify the use of nuclear weapons.....this is exactly why some folks suggest that we, as a species, are an evolutionary dead end.....

just because we can think ourselves into lose-lose situations and allow our egos to find an advantage in it is not the same thing as intelligence. :eek:
Lan and WarC....the use of atomic bombs in ww2 was an immensely difficult and provocative decision...and it was the right one for the moment...

i took no issue with it my post, nor take issue with it now...but to harken back to those days in the hopes of justifying the use of nuclear weapons today only makes me realize that my point is true.....

we are not living in the middle of the twentieth century....we are living in a world where nuclear capablilites have proliferated to the point where they are no longer synonomous with military or economic most cases, they are a one trick pony, still with the ability for short and long term death and destruction, but in existance primarily for the only reason that they have ever a deterrent

there is only one superpower is america, and i would count myself among those who even wonder if that moniker still holds water....regardless, however, it is america that still retains the nuclear might to destroy this planet.....

that alone is the biggest friggin deterrent around....methinks, however, that there grows here a nibbling uncertainty that a vast nuclear arsenal is not enough, cause syria, or north korea, at some point will put our willingness to use it to the test, or israel will decide that a mid east hotbed of terrorism is only prolonging the agony, or iran will want to secure its soverignty by testing a device just to let the world know that it is not a government of smoke and mirrors

are these rational decisions, in this world at this time?....probably not, but these scenarios are all possibilities, tests of resolve and commitment in a world that dreams of peace, but wakes each day to a world where humans haven't a clue how to sit down and achieve it......

as the one nation with enough nuclear firepower to end any atomic playday in a matter of minutes, we face the daunting responsibility of creating an environment where peace is a real possibility....that is, imo, what america is capable of....

but, as izme has said here, peace will never be achieved through military action....if for no other reason that weapon's sales are an international industry nowadays....methinks history will remember weapon's brokers as one of maybe three capitalistic "scouts" for globalization....our glorious economic system has created this situation, and it has become to lucrative and too widespread nowadays to recall it.....(and let's not forget the other side of that coin....which is arming nations to create power balances during the cold war)

these have been the swords of captialism and democracy, creating a world where every any number of leaders has found the ways and means to create a small potatoes military force or personalized weapon's industry to surround a flag and give it some meaning in the world.

and this is the paradigm that our government still supports....if it is ever to change, it MUST, i believe, begin to change here, either with the courage to sheath the swords...and demonstrate a willingness to create peace.....or with the courage to be the country that kills 50 or 100 million people and says "it ends now"......and enforce peace

the world, i think, truely expects and fears the our swords still glisten in the sunlight, nations hear more and more clearly that they must obey or perish......

why should they?.....would we?

logically, we are convinced that if our might shines bright enough, some mysterious truth will blind everybody else and allow us to be the one eyed man....this is simply the rationalization of a national ego....

and the world is full of them
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LANMaster said:
Thoughtful post, Iltos.
I think there's a bit more gray than you're allowing, though.
Different places in the world require different responses to situations.

One thing is for sure, though. Showing up at the OK Corral with only a daisy of friendship in your hand is not a very smart thing to do.
I do not recommend that we should do that. It seems that maybe you are.
paradigm shifts are downright scary....they take courage and conviction....and the willingness to risk the unknown and to sacrifice comfort and convience....america became the leader it is today because of these qualities, and today, i believe, is in danger losing that role because it will not face the truth of the geopolitical situation

but all i said was we need the courage to put sheath the swords....this is respect for others....i'm not suggesting that we show up at the ok corral without them in plain sight.....this is respect for ourselves

the "colonial" period, and its mutated child, the cold war, is over.....the political and militaristic manipulations of the world for resources, that kept billions of people in the middle ages so that western civilization could thrive, and billions more isolated from the rest of the world for the sanctity of cultural mystique, is winding down

what feels so intensely chaotic (that vast grey area), and thus dangerous to some, is just the morning yawn of nationalism, and the globalization of economies that are struggling for a true piece of the pie and a voice in its baking

as much as it might hope to, america's current brand of foreign policy is not some drug that will put it all back to sleep again....without the courage (and the vision), imo, to recognize this truth, and adapt to a new leadership model, america could well become the most dangerous nation on this planet....the lodse cannon of the 21st century....
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LANMaster said:
I don't thionk you need top worry about America becoming the "loose cannon of the 21st century". I don't see that happening.
We have already had our hands slapped over Iraq, and I don't think we enjoyed that too much.
Perhaps we will stumble and make a few mistakes (not that Iraq was a mistake, but clearly it was not as necessary as we were led to believe) but I think we are learning from them all the time.
this is my hope, as well, LAN :up:

still looking for signs of the courage, tho....there is courage in this administration, but, imo, it is ill concieved, and lacks brand of it, at least :)
ChrisJones said:
Yes but the reason the Romans had half the world hateing them was becasue they had invaded and occupied a lot of it. If the US continues on it's merry crusade around the Middle East, soon every nutcase with a gun that isn't already doing so, is going to start aiming it in your direction.
WarC said:
The basic truth of the matter is that the US is a huge, powerful country. It is the sole superpower. It has huge resources and a huge economic tree. When a state reaches the height of power that ours has, they must spend increasingly larger amounts of money on defense.
WarC.... IF that bolded statement is somehow true, it is, imo, a tacit admission that the economic prowess of the united states is directly proportional to our military might....and makes the assertion in CJ's quote all the more suggest that "superpowerdom" carries with it responsibilities that foster dislike around the world, as tho to achieve our standard of living and quality of live....and more importantly, to assure that it is maintained....we need to keep the rest of the world in line....

izme suggested elsewhere on this thread that violence only breeds more violence....there may be no arguable political insights to link vietnam and iraq, but their philosophical links certainly support izme's statement....if this continues to be american policy, it doesn't matter if it "pisses off" half the world or a successful model, it will be copied by governments with less scruples than even an american democracy....

ChrisJones said:
As the world's only remaining superpower the US should be using it's position to bring peace to the world.
until we the people are willing to look into the link between our economic comfort and our military manipulations, the truth, imo, is that the notion of peace will continue to be forged on the anvil of young men who die on foreign soil for a VERY ill defined and self serving idea of freedom.
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ChrisJones said:
Oh and I wasn't suggesting Saudi could kick Americas as s militarily... or are you suggesting the US should go and invade Saudi now as well??? Not going to happen the US has too much oil to loose.
which brings to the motivation behind any further military action in the region....cloak it how you will....and even admitting that, in the long run, it might well have beneficial effects for the world, the motivations are an unacknowledged hypocrisy, imo, having less to do with the economic and social well being of populations, as claimed, than with simple geopolitical expediency.....
this is an interesting pov re: the administration's consideration of iran for possible military intervention....

even though an editorial in the nytimes, its voice is has a distinctly international flavor, so i imagine some of its facts will be open to dismissal

February 8, 2005
The Human Rights Case Against Attacking Iran

DURING her tour of Europe, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has given assurances that a military attack by the United States on Iran "is simply not on the agenda at this point." But notwithstanding Ms. Rice's disavowal, recent statements by the Bush administration, starting with President Bush's State of the Union address and Vice President Dick Cheney's comments about a possible Israeli military attack on Iran, are reminiscent of the rhetoric in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. And Ms. Rice herself made clear that "the Iranian regime's human rights behavior and its behavior toward its own population is something to be loathed."

American policy toward the Middle East, and Iran in particular, is often couched in the language of promoting human rights. No one would deny the importance of that goal. But for human rights defenders in Iran, the possibility of a foreign military attack on their country represents an utter disaster for their cause.

The situation for human rights in Iran is far from ideal. Security forces harass, imprison and even torture human rights defenders and civil society activists. The authorities attack journalists and writers for expressing their opinions and regularly shut down newspapers. Political prisoners languish in jails. Superfluous judicial summonses are routinely used to intimidate critics, and arbitrary detentions are common.

But Iranian society has refused to be coerced into silence. The human rights discourse is alive and well at the grassroots level; civil society activists consider it to be the most potent framework for achieving sustainable democratic reforms and political pluralism.

Indeed, American readers might be surprised to know how vigorous Iran's human rights organizations are. Last fall, when security forces unlawfully detained more than 20 young journalists and bloggers because of what they had written, independent Iranian organizations like the Center for Defense of Human Rights, the Association of Journalists for Freedom of Press, and the Students Association for Human Rights campaigned for their release.

This outcry, in tandem with support from the international community and human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch, led to the release of detainees. In fact, so great was the criticism of the abuses committed during these detentions that some of Iran's most senior government officials came out in favor of releasing the detainees.

Independent organizations are essential for fostering the culture of human rights in Iran. But the threat of foreign military intervention will provide a powerful excuse for authoritarian elements to uproot these groups and put an end to their growth.

Human rights violators will use this opportunity to silence their critics by labeling them as the enemy's fifth column. In 1980, after Saddam Hussein invaded Iran and inflamed nationalist passions, Iranian authorities used such arguments to suppress dissidents.

American hypocrisy doesn't help, either. Given the longstanding willingness of the American government to overlook abuses of human rights, particularly women's rights, by close allies in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, it is hard not to see the Bush administration's focus on human rights violations in Iran as a cloak for its larger strategic interests.

Respect for human rights in any country must spring forth through the will of the people and as part of a genuine democratic process. Such respect can never be imposed by foreign military might and coercion - an approach that abounds in contradictions. Not only would a foreign invasion of Iran vitiate popular support for human rights activism, but by destroying civilian lives, institutions and infrastructure, war would also usher in chaos and instability. Respect for human rights is likely to be among the first casualties.

Instead, the most effective way to promote human rights in Iran is to provide moral support and international recognition to independent human rights defenders and to insist that Iran adhere to the international human rights laws and conventions that it has signed. Getting the Iranian government to abide by these international standards is the human rights movement's highest goal; foreign military intervention in Iran is the surest way to harm us and keep that goal out of reach.

Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is the founder of theCenter for Defense of Human Rights in Tehran, Iran. Hadi Ghaemi is a researcher for Human Rights Watch.
Linskyjack said:
Neoconservatives are tingling with excitement to see their expansionist view of U.S. power in the world so enshrined (and all dissenters removed from the Cabinet)
i've never quite understood what a neoconservative is, but my own feeling is that, for conservatives in general, the 'expansionist' view of u.s. power is much more a kind of economic throwback to the mid twentieth century, when america was without a doubt the dominant economic force in the world....terrorism aside, the military swaggering we are currently witnessing is, imo, completely reactionary, an effort to reassert dominion on the geopolitical scene...while that truth may have certain christain overtones for the administration, there is growing evidence that the body of voters from the religious right, as opposed to their pundits, are themselves plagued by misgivings re: our sword rattling.....

which is what this article asserts as well
WarC said:
Mr. Wallis, who wrote that article, is blind to the fact that we as a nation have enemies, and they won't go away by hugging them and telling them its all going to be alright.
there are nations out there that would just as soon we dropped off the face of the earth, so that their own geopolitical ambitions could be excersised more freely, and a few groups of multinationals that are willing to kill off our citizenry to make a point....these both could be called enemies,,,,

they view us as enemies, as well.....

there are implications in here worthy of a long discussion, but i'm not goin there

what i don't get is this: does anybody really think that any of our enemies have the wherewithall to do more that blow up a few buildings and kill a lot of people?....terrorists certainly have amibitons for that, and i'm all for a great deal of very active watchfulness regarding terrorism....but nation states?....are iran or north korea seriously considering bombing america?...israel?....south korea?

or is it more a matter of....what's the word....can't balance of power will have to suffice....

protecting their soverignty against their fears....

what are they afraid of?


as a global power, we will have interests that need to be defended
and what are we defending against....currently?

i suggest that it is our lost of power, not from some military standpoint, but from developing economic parity around the world, and our continued vision and associated attempts to control it for the purposes of maintaining economic superiority.

These people run on this false idea that every violent action in the world occurs through the US government, its as if they don't understand that there are other countries and organizations at work here that are actively working against the US government and have been since before Bush came into office.
again, even acknowledging terrorism, those bolded letters are completely egocentric in a global economy....and this is the one true benefit of captialism vis a vis "world peace".....even the dictatorial megalomaniacs, who sometimes disregard their own people for the sake of political and military ambitions, must deal with the let's pretend for a moment that the only marketplace they really care about is weaponry....throughout the entire cold war, the weapons market was a legitimate means for both the soviet union and america (and through these two "superpowers", israel and china, among others) to contruct these fabled balances of power, which have proliferated into the current state of affairs....

does this market place still exist?....are we actively working with other nations to end it?....i think not...if for no other reason that we NO LONGER HAVE CONTROL over it as thoroughly as we once imagined that we did.
our own creation has come back to nip at our heels.....

Bush didn't invent terrorism.....etc.
agreed...he inherited this ongoing dance....he's stepped on some toes, but is no wall flower.....his understanding is very presidential, in the sense of history, but imo his abilities are reactionary, with a minimum of vision towards what seems to me to be the future.

How many more Americans have to die at the hands of our enemies before people realize we're fighting a global war
i don't buy the terrorist arguement as the source of this "global war"....there will be incidents for a long time, no doubt (which is why i advocate for a very active watchfulness)....but, from both a nationalistic and political perspective, the only "global war" is economic, and its only a war if one chooses to react against the changes that the global spread of captialism will bring to the geopolitical situation.....

just as with the weapons marketplace, capitalism doesn't care if its good or bad for a governement to particpate...captialism just does what it does, developing new markets (consumers), and generating profit

for me, the issue is not about captialism spreading throughout the world as the handmaiden of is about how political systems (communist, socialist, democratic, dictatorial) balance the benefits of captialism, AS AN ECONOMIC SYSTEM, with their responsibilites as govs to their people.....and methinks that, in this regard, capitalism tends to dissove the barriers between political dogma and the notions of freedom and tolerance

certainly there will be exceptions....i give you muslim terrorism as the current example.

but, to me, its only fear that sees the solution to america's "global war" as a military operation...there is little true leadership in this....the real solution, to me, will come out of how we handle the rest of the world competing with america economically, and whether we "fight" (to preserve the tone of the post) in the world as it is, or in the world as it was.
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this dovetails nicely with my post to WarC, touching on some of the geopolitical issues that effect the perception of america in other places around the world.

February 19, 2005
Doubting U.S., China Is Wary of Korea Role

HANGHAI, Feb. 18 - The dispatch by China of a high-level envoy this weekend to persuade the North Koreans to return to talks on their nuclear weapons would seem to present it with an ideal opportunity.

China's economy is growing enormously, casting shadows in every direction. Its fast-modernizing military has the attention of every power, regional or global. No other country, meanwhile, enjoys the kind of long, unbroken friendship that China has nurtured for over five decades with North Korea. In short, all the pieces would seem to be in place for Beijing to score its first big coup in global diplomacy, brokering an end to the nuclear threat on the Korean peninsula.

The only problem with this optimistic scenario is that it is shared by almost no one in China.

For now, the Chinese remain reluctant to take major diplomatic risks on North Korea, convinced that this longtime ally, a country that Chinese soldiers shed blood in large numbers to defend, will never turn against them. Analysts say that Beijing's top priority is to maintain quiet on its frontier, and that it would take a more aggressive tack only if tensions between Washington and North Korea were to increase seriously.

Beyond such doubts, however, lingers an even more fundamental reason for the reluctance of China to take the lead in this crisis: its deep-seated skepticism about the United States' strategic designs in the region.

"If we cut off aid and the Koreas are unified on South Korean terms, that would be a big disaster for China," one analyst said. "The U.S. would insist on basing its troops in the northern part of the peninsula, and China would have to consider that all of its efforts going back to the Korean War have been a waste."

Other experts here look cynically on Washington's insistence on Chinese leadership in the North Korean face-off, seeing it as part of a broader effort by the United States to entangle Beijing in a growing web of international arrangements, the better to limit Chinese influence.

A fresh example of the divisions between the United States and China was provided this week with confirmation that Tokyo is moving closer to Washington's policy position that the status quo on Taiwan must be maintained. Chinese analysts often point out that having a friendly country tying up American troops on its northern border frees Beijing to focus its forces on other contingencies, notably the Taiwan question.

Meanwhile, most Chinese international security experts insist that the United States holds the two most important keys to resolving the North Korean problem: ending a state of hostility that dates from the earliest days of the cold war and providing tangible assurances to North Korea that Washington does not seek the government's overthrow.

"Although many of our friends see it as a failing state, potentially one with nuclear weapons, China has a different view," said Piao Jianyi, an expert in international relations at the Institute of Asia Pacific Studies in Beijing. "North Korea has a reforming economy that is very weak, but every year is getting better, and the regime is taking measures to reform its economy, so perhaps the U.S. should reconsider its approach."

This widely held picture of a slowly, painfully reforming North Korea suggests a broad sympathy for North Korea among Chinese intellectuals and policy makers. For many, North Korea's experience echoes China's fitful reforms of a generation ago. "In the late 1960's, China also had a lack of transparency," Mr. Piao added. "It was also threatening to other countries and, as Westerners would say, it was an oppressive country. But one threatens others because one feels threatened, and in that perspective, you can better understand North Korea."

Many experts in Chinese affairs say the main emphasis of the country's foreign policy remains avoiding turbulence wherever possible in international relations, the better to realize its economic ambitions. "As far as the Chinese are concerned, the bottom line is stability," said Robert Sutter, a former national intelligence officer for East Asia, and author of the coming book "China's Rise in Asia." "They've been really concerned about the danger of war in Korea, and that is why they got busy behind the six-party talks, not because they wanted to be seen as any great Asian player. Still, putting a lot of pressure on North Korea would be hard for them, and I don't think they want to take those risks."

But if caution remains the cornerstone of China's policy toward North Korea, Beijing wants to keep up at least the appearance of being a responsible power and attentive to regional problems. Moreover, some voices here have begun to insist that traditional diplomatic approaches no longer meet its current interests.

The nuclear situation on the Korean peninsula is unlike anything China has faced before, said Zhang Liangui, a foreign affairs expert at the Central Party School, in Beijing. The new development "might lead to nuclear competition in northeast Asia, which is the most important region in the world for China," he said, adding, "We must treat this with the greatest seriousness."

Other Chinese experts go further. Shen Dingli, vice president of the International Relations Institute at Fudan University in Shanghai, said China's priorities in the international face-off were clear: keeping North Korea from collapsing, and keeping American troops south of the 38th parallel, the line that divides the two Koreas. But he complained of Chinese timidity in limiting itself to a host's role for the talks.

"China still does not have a mentality for leading the world, and has no reflexes for pushing the U.S. and North Korea to do something," Mr. Shen said. "This crisis is a reminder that we must raise the level of our diplomacy quite a bit still. If China is not wary of the old passive approach to the world and doesn't learn how to be more pushy, we will only have ourselves to blame."

North Korea Sets Talk Conditions

SEOUL, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 19 (Reuters) - North Korea will return to talks about its nuclear weapons program if the United States pledges "coexistence and noninterference," the North's envoy to the United Nations told a South Korean newspaper in an article published Saturday.

The envoy, Deputy Ambassador Han Song Ryol, also told the newspaper JoongAng Ilbo that the North wanted an assurance by the United States that there would be substantive results from negotiations before it returned to talks.
gbrumb said:
iltos......Interesting article but the writer has completely ignored the last two decades of border skirmishes between the NK army and NSRC army. These have progressed to the use of heavy artillery not the usual AK-47 shot across the border. Seems to me the writer has a rather simplistic view of the relationship between NK and China as that of big brother. There is no true and substantial economic ties between the countries that comes close to that of China and the US. If nothing else the Chinese's leaders are pragmatic and NK has nothing to offer China in the long run and never will.
good observation, did seem to me that the author skimmed over both the potential military ambitions of china, as well as what can only be considered the "secondary" role of north korea in the region, both politically and economically...

i nonetheless feel that capitalism in the region is a kind of great pacifier....certainly not a solution to every problem, but a solution that both weakens the politicall ambitions of the u.s in the region and allows for countries like north korea to join the family of nations...china is not about to threaten its economic boom time by rattling any swords right now, and must be well aware of its firmly entrenched symbiotic relationship with the may excersise its growing power with statements like those raised in the article, but its interests are best served still by at least a limited diplomatic agreement with the wishes of the u.s....meanwhile, south korea has begun a limited working partnership with north korea, providing economic benefits to the north and political benefits to the south.....

the thing that strikes me, in spite of this administration's statements to the contrary, is that the example of north korea's nuclear capability is truely about soverignty....whatever threat they pose to the world is limited to one fatal attempt to excersise control based solely on that capability....they have neither the economy nor the military to do any real harm (yeah, right...tell that to the south koreans)

but imo, diplomacy concurrent with market forces are a powerful "weapon" in this kind of battle, and my concern is that bush, president of a country whose population has recieved the "freeing" benefits of capitalism for a century, does not see that the global spread of this economic system, while, to me, a distinct "threat" to american economic superiority like we have all have gotten used to, is also a distinct and potent influence to the resolution of geopolitical tensions, if we can just admit to ourselves that capitalism doesn't really care about the political system in which it operates
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