Paul Waldman nay-says comparisons of the Lausanne nuclear talks to UK prime minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler with respect to Czechoslovakia ("No, the Iran nuclear negotiations aren’t Munich in 1938," Washington Post, April 1).
I get where Waldman’s coming from – it’s annoying to hear American hawks on both sides of the aisle draw that analogy – but I disagree. Not so much because he gets it wrong as because he gets it backward.
The nuclear talks ARE a lot like Munich in 1938. But it’s Iran acting out the role of Chamberlain in response to a US strategy that’s textbook Hitler. There’s little doubt the Iranians will regret going to the trouble of hammering out the just-announced "framework."
The Hitlerian method is this: Invent a "controversy" (for example, "ethnic Germans in Czech Sudetenland are oppressed"). Make a set of demands. If the demands are met, add new conditions. When you’ve pushed things as far as they can go and the other party finally refuses, accuse that other party of acting in bad faith and claim justification for doing what you wanted to do anyway (invade and occupy Czechoslovakia).
The Iran "nuclear weapons controversy" is an invented crisis of that Hitlerian type.
Quotes, links, and embedded content in this Medium.com post.
The Iranians may be a bit paranoid but, as the saying goes, this does not mean some folks are not out to get them. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his knee-jerk followers in Washington clearly are out to get them – and they know it.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the surreal set of negotiations in Switzerland premised not on evidence, but rather on an assumption of Iran’s putative “ambition” to become a nuclear weapons state – like Israel, which maintains a secret and sophisticated nuclear weapons arsenal estimated at about 200 weapons. The supposed threat is that Iran might build one.
Israel and the U.S. know from their intelligence services that Iran has no active nuclear weapons program, but they are not about to let truth get in the way of their concerted effort to marginalize Iran. And so they fantasize before the world about an Iranian nuclear weapons program that must be stopped at all costs – including war.
Among the most surprising aspects of this is the fact that most U.S. allies are so willing to go along with the charade and Washington’s catch-all solution – sanctions – as some U.S. and Israeli hardliners open call for a sustained bombing campaign of Iranian nuclear sites that could inflict a massive loss of human life and result in an environmental catastrophe.
On March 26, arch-neocon John Bolton, George W. Bush’s Ambassador to the United Nations, graced the pages of the New York Times with his most recent appeal for an attack on Iran. Bolton went a bit too far, though, in citing the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of November 2007, agreed to unanimously by all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. Perhaps he reasoned that, since the “mainstream media” rarely mentions that NIE, “Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities,” he could get away with distorting its key findings, which were:
“We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons. … We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons. …
Many libertarians are justifiably exasperated by Sen. Rand Paul joining the saber-rattling against Iran. But his foreign policy positions have been shaky for a long time. Here’s a review of his 2012 book, Government Bullies, from the American Conservative magazine (perhaps Rand’s biggest supporters in the Washington media). Rand has been getting dreadful foreign policy advise for a long time – as evidenced by his endorsement of the National Endowment for Democracy and his faith that foreign aid can be redeemed. And his “back of the hand” solution for TSA abusive searches remains as ludicrous as when he first proposed it. The review concluded by asking whether Rand would “become simply another conservative who flourishes government waste, fraud, and abuse stories to make supporters believe he is going to roll back Leviathan.” Two and a half years later, Rand Paul has not yet provided a satisfying answer to that question.
Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans Are Being Harassed, Abused, and Imprisoned by the Feds, Rand Paul, Center Street, 280 pages
By James Bovard • American Conservative – November 20, 2012
With Ron Paul’s exit from Congress, his senator son, Rand Paul, is now the great hope of many conservatives and libertarian-leaning activists. Senator Paul has done superb work challenging the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act. He is seeking to burnish his bona fides with a new book, Government Bullies.
This volume will tell you all you ever wanted to know about federal wetlands policy, which is discussed exhaustively in the book’s first hundred pages. The Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA, and other agencies have trampled property owners’ rights time and again on the most arbitrary and unjustified pretexts. Similarly, Government Bullies contains extensive discussions of the government’s abuses of farmers, small businessmen, a guitar manufacturer, and other likeable victims. Continue
Though it could be interpreted as having a pro-US intervention spin on it, this brave reporting by David Enders is still very valuable. And the calls for intervention by the Iraqis should be taken only as a measure of their desperation in their fight against the Islamic State, rather than a true call for intervention by the reporter passing on their wishes.
I’m trying to see if I can get David back on the show sometime this week.