“This is massacre…this is genocide…this is Hitler!”

Listen to this CNN interview with an eyewitness to the Baharestan Square Massacre. If it does not freeze your blood, you are no longer part of any community of human feeling I can recognize.

I am, as of now, DONE with people who say we shouldn’t “impose American values” or “promote democracy” in the Middle East. They are morally bankrupt. As of 24 June 2009 they have slip-slid into the category of apologists for genocide.

That woman is shattered. She has witnessed atrocities no human being should even have to imagine, let alone watch being wreaked on their friends and neighbors and countrymen. She is pleading with us, screaming for the world to intervene.

Will we flagellate ourselves over our imagined sins, or act? This is cause for war – not on behalf of the U.S.’s particular
interests, but on behalf of all humanity against a cabal of tyrants and butchers unequaled in evil since Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia.

To know of this degree of radical evil, and have the power to act against it but fail to do so, is to become accomplice to the evil. The time for the overthrow of the Iranian regime, by any feasible means up to and including full-scale war, has come.

Free Iran!

178 thoughts on ““This is massacre…this is genocide…this is Hitler!”

  1. USA should not act, if she does, it will be worse for Iran.

    I remember when USA decided to act on Irak… and then let Sadam kill anybody that supported americans. Every family had a member kill by Sadam once USA decided to “help” them. Never again will they trust americans.

    If you impose democracy, it won’t be liked, it will be imposed. If something changes it will have to be by their own people, period.

  2. >I remember when USA decided to act on Irak… and then let Sadam kill anybody that supported americans.

    Yes, because we didn’t finish what we started. Hussein should have been deposed in 1991 when we had the power to do it, and to hell with “international opinion”.

    This time, we must finish it.

  3. If they are not going to fight they will be killed like rabbits, the same Nazis exterminated jews because they didn’t defended themselfs.

    Here we see again the sheep and wolves. A civil war is one of the worse things could happen to a country.

  4. Does anybody know where Bono, Sting and The Three Tenors are these days?

  5. Which are the American values you speak of? Disrespect of differency? That doesnt count as a value where i come from. Nor does capitalism.
    Why do you feel you are a Global Sheriff that needs to do something about every wrong situation in the fucking planet, while at the same time dont do anything to fix whats wrong within the borders your country?
    Would you like it if we invaded the US to fix your screwed up system?I think not. You’d rather fix it yourselves wouldn’t you?

    I bet more people die from hunger, drugs, and lack of proper medical care every day in the US, than there ever will in this “genocide”.
    It doesnt mean that because you dont see it on CNN, it doesnt happen. Do you do anything about that?

    Let the Iraqi people choose their own fate (and in their own fate). After all, it is easier to let them kill themselves than you killing them, which will cost many US soldiers lives.

    Free the US!

  6. > USA should not act, if she does, it will be worse for Iran.

    At this point it’s irrelevant. Those scumbags would blame the “Great Satan” for just about anything that could go wrong in their country.

  7. This whole situation just goes to show you how much of a joke democracy really is. Ahmadinejad probably would have won even without election fraud (surprise – it’s everywhere, not just the US) considering he had support from the majority of Iranians who don’t live in the much more liberal capital city. Just as candidates in US presidential elections aren’t that much different, Ahmadinejad and Mousavi are only marginally different in their policies and the regime would live on.

    Of course the brutal crackdown on protesters is wholly inhuman and disgusting – anyone who thinks otherwise is insane. But trying to topple this regime will most likely only bring even more bloodshed there.

    Do you think that average Iranians would stand by with foreign troops invading their country?
    Won’t there be massive collateral damage if there is a full-scale war killing more innocents than if there is no war?
    Do you think China and Russia will stand idly by as we go all in?
    How can we be sure the new government will be any better than this one?
    If using this rationale there are plenty of nations we could invade right now. Is it our place to just pick and choose which totalitarian regimes we overthrow while supporting some of our favored ones?

    There really are no easy answers in this unfortunate situation but I for one am certain that our current US government IS morally bankrupt and has no business telling other nations what to do. We must get our own house in order and restore liberty to America before we can go on a crusade for freedom around the world.

  8. >Do you think that average Iranians would stand by with foreign troops invading their country?

    I heard a woman screaming desperately for the outside world to intervene. Listen to it!

    >How can we be sure the new government will be any better than this one?

    We can be pretty certain if we create it, as we did in Germany and Japan and Iraq. We never get total certainty. Paralysis is not the right answer in the face of this horror.

  9. >Would you like it if we invaded the US to fix your screwed up system?I

    Do we hear American women screaming for the world to intervene as women and children and old men are clubbed to death, thrown from bridges, chopped into dogmeat with axes?

    If that ever happens in the U.S., you damn betcha I’ll like it if you invade to fix “our screwed up system”. Until then, don’t you dare — don’t you dare – spit on those massacred innocents by pretending that the normal social ills of an advanced country are anything like this horror.

  10. “The time for the overthrow of the Iranian regime, by means up to including full-scale war, has come.”

    I agree. But the lessons of Yugoslavia need to be learned – that trigger-happy indiscriminate bombing (like, bridges of the Danube) actually caused much of the population to rally behind Milosevich and it was very hard for the Otpor movement to whip up the opposition again which eventually led to the fall of the regime.

    Intervention – not only in this situation, but in general – needs to be more selective, more careful, more humane, more surgical, more limited and generally, better thought out, focusing on tipping the balance at carefully selected points rather than brute force.

    The best thing probably would be to just drop weapons and ammo for the opposition by parachute and avoid any bombing.

  11. >trigger-happy indiscriminate bombing (like, bridges of the Danube) actually caused much of the population to rally behind Milosevich

    I drew the same lesson. So did the U.S., as it later showed in Iraq. Air war is not sufficient, just seductive because it’s low-casualty and the politically soft option. Troops will have to go in, take ground, and actively destroy the basiji and the Iranian Guard.

    >The best thing probably would be to just drop weapons and ammo for the opposition by parachute and avoid any bombing.

    Dropping in weapons would be a good start, but I doubt it will be sufficient. I agree that saturation bombing would be particularly wrong here.

  12. I’m certain that folks in Iraq were saying similar things when we began bombing their country. A million have died in Iraq due to our invasion (see Lancet surveys of Iraq war casualties). Applying the same logic to Iraq, somebody should have attacked the U.S. to prevent the harm we were inflicting.

    I’m not trying to minimize the atrocities in Iran, but other atrocities are happening elsewhere in the world RIGHT NOW, see any of the 15 wars conflicts raging in Africa, see the Israel/Palestine conflict, and other places I’m sure I don’t know about. What about the people screaming in Iraq, Congo, Afghanistan, Sudan, Gaza?

    My point is, horrible things happen. We’ve caused some them and I’ve no confidence in our government (W or Barack) fixing what’s going on in Iran. Not to mention that an invasion of Iran will certainly just aggravate the Muslim community world-wide, putting us further in danger of 9/11 attacks.

    We stay out of Iran, it’s not our issue. Iranians need to overthrow their own government and do their own thing.

    Iran has not attacked us, attacking/invading Iran is not an option.

  13. First, I completely share your response to that footage. It is shocking. Second, I agree that what is happening in Iran is absolutely wrong. We know it is wrong and we should not hide behind ‘cultural differences’, but come right out and condemn this. Third, since we know this is wrong we ought to do everything we can do make it right. That does not just mean this situation but many other wrongs around the world.

    But, where I differ from your analysis is on this point: ‘…and have the power to act against it but fail to do so…’. I am afraid that we (I am British, but I count us as on the same side) do not have the power to solve this problem militarily. As powerful as the US and her allies are, we do not have the power to stop this by force. Indeed I can think of no example where a foreign intervention on our part has solved such a problem. Unfortunately it seems only to make matters worse.

    We ought to do everything we can to help these people. In my opinion world governments should unite in not recognising the Iranian government. We should not pull our punches when it comes to unequivocally condemning moral wrongs when we see them. We should provide aid and medical assistance wherever we can. We should support groups who are fighting for freedom in these countries (as you are doing with NedaNet). But ultimately long term change for the better has to come from within, and cannot be forced from without.

    That is the conclusion that I have been forced to accept. Even now I sometimes doubt this when I see videos such as the one you linked to. Seeing that makes me think ‘screw it, let’s get these people’. But then I think about it more calmly, and again I return to the position I explained before.

  14. >I’m certain that folks in Iraq were saying similar things when we began bombing their country.

    I am too — about what Hussein was doing to them – feeding people feet-first into industrial chip shredders, that sort of thing. Um, do you remember the original reports from Abu Ghraib when it was breached post-liberation, the ones that made the American guards’ perverted antics later on seem like party games at a spa resort? Hello, hello, anybody remember Uday Hussein’s rape rooms? Or the nerve-gassing of Kurds? It’s good that we invaded Iraq. The Lancet figures are bullshit that have been refuted multiple times.

    >What about the people screaming in Iraq, Congo, Afghanistan, Sudan, Gaza?

    Where we can act, we should, and to FUCK with “international opinion”. I’m done with all that moral-equivalence vomit and equivocating; it’s now in the exact same category as arguing that we shouldn’t have liberated Auschwitz because the Soviets were doing worse. I passed my threshold this morning. I think that interview will haunt me as long as I live.

  15. >Indeed I can think of no example where a foreign intervention on our part has solved such a problem.

    Really. So, in your universe, Auschwitz and Belsen-Bergen are still killing a million Jews, Gypsies, and “undesirables” a year?

    Man, I’m glad I don’t live there.

  16. esr:
    > trey jackson:
    > >I’m certain that folks in Iraq were saying similar things when we began bombing their country.
    >
    > I am too — about what Hussein was doing to them

    So harm is ok as long as we’re causing it…

    The point you side-stepped is that applying this logic to Iraq would involve any number of countries attacking us for what we caused. Do you expect other countries to intervene against the U.S. in that case?

    Just because Hussein was doing harm doesn’t justify the U.S. causing a million deaths (and 2 million displaced folks).

  17. >Really. So, in your universe, Auschwitz and Belsen-Bergen are still killing a million Jews, Gypsies, and “undesirables” a year?

    I think it is rather disingenuous to compare the two situations. We did not enter WW2 to bring about social change in Germany, but rather in response to Hitler’s aggression against Poland. And, indeed it was our harsh treatment of Germany at the end of the first war that lead to the social conditions that allowed Hitler to emerge, so in a sense this lends weight to my point. Also, Hitler at that time was an aberration in Europe and we knew that defeating his regime would restore some degree of normalcy in Germany. Sadly the Khamenei/Ahmadinejad regime is not an aberration, either in Iran or the region generally. We would have no such justification in thinking that defeating these two would magically solve Iran’s problems. Unfortunately we must acknowledge that this sort of government, rather than being the exception, is the rule.

    I don’t like it anymore than you, but I think if we are to be intellectually honest about this we have to admit that, in general, military interference does more harm than good and should be used only as a last resort in defence of your nation or an ally.

  18. “All the is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

    The Iranian regime has earned nothing less than the undying enmity of every free person in the world. Our (the United States’) government has no moral option left than to forswear all diplomatic relations with the current Iranian regime. We should now consider ourselves in a state of war with the regime. Pre-war, maybe. Perhaps an overt invasion can be overted or minimized but there is no satisfactory result of this conflict that does not end with the agents of this massacre being tried for crimes against humanity. Military action of some degree was probably an inevitability anyway, what with the mullahs’ naked wish to obtain nuclear capabilities. This only adds to our list of casus belli.

  19. Two days ago, about 70 people were killed and over 100 wounded from a car bomb in north Iraq. Yesterday, around 50 more people were killed in Sadr City in Baghdad from a similar attack.

    There are over 100,000 documented civilian deaths in Iraq over the past 6 years as a result of the U.S. invasion.

    If it does not freeze your blood, you are no longer part of any community of human feeling I can recognize.

    I see no reason to post on a blog with censorship, and as a result this will be my last reply.

  20. “women and children and old men are clubbed to death, thrown from bridges, chopped into dogmeat with axes?”

    You must not live in a big US city, where stuff like that happen every day. Not extensively, but they have been happening for much longer than the incidents in Iraq. They are happening as we speak, and they will continue to happen. With many more victims than any genocide.
    They are so common, noone even bothers to write or inform you about them. Only the people who are close to the victims hear about them. Occasionaly not even them.
    The rest of you, dont really care.
    Eastern socities are constructed differently than your corrupted, inhuman ones. People might actually care for stuff that arent happening literally outside their front door. They might also care for what the fuck is happening outside their neighbours door. People dont do that in the US. They are “civilized”. If they did, trust me you would hear their screams even in the country.

    As for prompting to go to war, well what can i say.
    You dont know what you are talking about. You havent experienced a war. You probably didnt know what a war looks like until George W. Bush Senior started his hunt against Sadam.
    Going to war is an act of lunacy. The only effect a war in Iraq will have is destroy the country. So you civilized caring people can restore it later. With interest of course.
    Open a new market for your products.
    Let people deal with their own problems. Just like you should be doing yourselves.

  21. the lancet survey was an obvious propaganda piece that’s been thoroughly debunked

    it’s entirely possible for a country to welcome an invading army as liberators–just ask cambodians how they felt about the vietnamese in 1978

    i do agree that the odds of our doing this right are low enough to suggest not trying, but that’s not really relevant to the moral point

  22. >You must not live in a big US city, where stuff like that happen every day.

    Interesting hallucinogens you’ve been taking, there. I don’t want any.

    Do you seriously mean to suggest that American paramilitary police auxiliaries are routinely killing people with axes? Throwing women off bridges?

  23. Government-sponsored thugs kill people with axes in America?!?! They told me that the streets were paved with gold and there was a chicken in every pot. I want my money back!

  24. The fact of outside communications being hindered gives that evil regime cover to do those awful things without fear of being seen. Down with them.

  25. Lancet stands on its own. Only folks “debunking” it have either a political agenda and/or no experience in statistical sampling. Same techniques were used in Congo, nobody had a problem with those results (b/c it fit their political agenda).

    Regarding moral issue: morals are subjective, let’s move on.

  26. It’s so lucky that your “Iron Law” only applies to the economy, and not to simple things like war.

    Although I’m glad you’ve decided you can trust Obama to get this right.

    >I am, as of now, DONE with people who say we shouldn’t “impose American values” or “promote democracy” in the Middle East.

    A lot of Iranians would consider those to be two quite different things, on account of what happened in 1953.

  27. >morals are subjective, let’s move on.

    You are free to maintain that morals are subjective, but radical evil, massacre and genocide are not. If you think those are subjective, you have exiled yourself from humanity.

    In situations where we confront radical evil, “harm is OK” as long as we cause less harm than we cure. Fortunately, this is not a difficult test to pass.

  28. Iran is unacceptable, but I think we can remake it just by bringing it into the world economy. Lifting trade embargoes with them would improve their economy and make them produce something besides terrorism abroad and misery at home. They would diversify their economy away from oil production, which is key for making a country sane. Compare Saudi Arabia to Dubai. The Saudis produce a lot of oil, but also a lot of terrorists. Dubai, meanwhile, is busy becoming a hub of the world economy, because they are running out of oil.

  29. Invading countries which have tyrannical regimes comes at an enormous price, as we’ve seen in Iraq. Whatever the merits, the U.S. can’t afford another war like that – the military, economical and (especially) political cost is too high. And even if it did, that’s just one country – there remain too many dictatorships.

    What we need to do instead is figure out how to help an educated population overthrow their oppressors. Why is the Iranian government so effective in blocking internet access? How have they been able to find and arrest the leaders of the protests? How have they been able to block all foreign broadcasts? Historically, tyrants have held onto power despite support of a small minority, using their monopoly on violence, on the media and superior organization. But technology has progressed to the point where the last two advantages are disappearing.

    To some extent, that’s just what we’re seeing now in Iran – mobile phones and twitter and youtube have had a tremendous effect. But we, the geeks, ought to do much more. Because the Iranians are just the first in a long list of peoples yearning for freedom – sooner or later Syria, Egypt, Cuba, Venezuela, and of course China and Russia could follow their lead.

  30. >Let the Iraqi people choose their own fate (and in their own fate). After all, it is easier to let them kill themselves than you killing them, which will >cost many US soldiers lives.

    >I drew the same lesson. So did the U.S., as it later showed in Iraq. Air war is not sufficient, just seductive because it’s low-casualty and the politically >soft option. Troops will have to go in, take ground, and actively destroy the basiji and the Iranian Guard.

    Trust me, we’re ready and willing (and by we, I mean American Soldiers). We don’t like the horseshit politics that have come out of the war in Iraq, and many of us don’t especially care for being in Iraq, but most of us do still want to be successful and for things to be better off for the Iraqis (and Afghans for that matter). Unfortunately, I don’t think the administration has the trouser stones to back up criticism of the situation in Iran with action by using the thousands of young men and women itching to practice their profession.

  31. Whether we invade/take military action or not, the US will bear a huge lot of the blame, internationally. If we invade, we will further the causes of the jihadists who call us the Great Satan and make us seem even worse to millions of people who only see and hear the news and opinions that their government wants them to see. If we fail to intervene, we’ll be castigated for lacking the backbone to stand up for what we supposedly believe in. It truly is a no-win situation for the US.

    Conflicts like this are difficult to settle militarily, because the military targets are not easy to identify, not easy to reach, difficult to contain, and significant collateral damage is always going to happen. Taking out power plants and water works hurts more than it helps, and the government layers itself in rings of innocent and not so innocent civilians. See the first paragraph. And how do you truly identify who does and doesn’t support the government? The middle east has been at war between and among tribes for thousands of years, and the peoples there have become amazingly adept at appearing to support both sides while covertly backstabbing both. A difficulty spot indeed.

    However, given the likely poor outcomes (for the US) for either choice, it’s my opinion that military action is inevitable. Or at least, should be, as I do not feel that the current administration and legislature has the necessary moral backbone to actually intercede.

    And, as for “casualties in Iraq”: How many MILLIONS more would be dead over that last half-decade had we not invaded? I am glad I don’t live in that situation, but I’d rather be killed by a cowardly suicide bomber while I waited in a recruiting station to serve my country, than be dragged from my home in the dead of night by the “police”, for a petty offense, to be tortured and ground up in a chipper…

  32. Eric, you’re a dear soul, but sometimes you have your head up your butt. America CAN be the policeman to the world, but it only works if people pay us to do so. The act of purchasing that service is SOOOOO necessary to making it work. Imagine an anarcho-capitalist society where you had purchased law enforcement services already, and PETA came along and said “We don’t like how you’re treating your pets, so we’re going to stop you from doing that to them.” Your first action would be to call your law enforcement service and tell them to get over here because you’re being assaulted.

    s/PETA/USA/ s/pets/citizens/

    The only thing that can change that relationship is for you to have purchased pet protection services from PETA (not that you would ever do that). …. But I can easily imagine the people of Iran purchasing civil rights protection services from the United States.

    Until they do that, we really NEED to stay the fuck out of Iran.

  33. You know, we really should just go ahead and invade Iran.

    Our military could kick the shit out of whatever the Iranians could field. The real work would come afterwards.

    Eric is right, this is pure evil, and this is no time for hand wringing and moral equivalence and “everything is equal to everything else, who are we to judge?” If that woman in the interview didn’t stir you, you are a heartless asshole.

    In a way, this shows that we were quite right to invade Iraq, and we would be doing the world a favor by invading Iran and setting these people free. All the sniveling critics were and are wrong, and really should be ashamed of themselves. But I doubt they are.

    Why do you think this is going on now? Because the people there see that their neighbors in Iraq are having real elections, not the sham ones they are used to having, and just had. For those that don’t know, the Mullahs, the senior clerics, really run Iran. They count the votes, they say who wins. And the common people are pissed, they have had enough, they can’t take it anymore.

    And it seems unlikely this cat we have in the Whitehouse is going to do anything about this, sadly. He is too busy trying to pull my beloved country into a Marxist hellhole.

  34. because we’re doing so well in one war we can’t win, we should obviously start another one!

  35. I’m all for Iran having democracy, and not having a system of government based on the whims of a council who believe they need to appease the magic man in the sky. However, invading another country is not something one should take lightly. You cannot predict the consequences of such an action. What the Iranian gov’t has done to their own people (Neda’s death being the most obvious example) is awful, but I fear that if the US intervenes in the same way it did in Iraq nothing good would happen. In this case, international opinion does matter. Surely other nations see the potential in an Iran that is a democracy and not a theocracy, an Iran that is open to Western ideals rather than closed to them.

    Another poster mentioned opening trade with Iran, in the hopes that Iran would open up if it were more open economically I am interested in this line of thinking, and am curious as to what esr has to say about it.

  36. I shouldn’t say “nothing good would happen.” That s not true. Surely something good could happen. What I meant was that for the most part, the consequences would be negative.

  37. If you want to repeat the (rather successful) Germany/Austria/Japan experiment of democracy in Iran, you need to be prepared to bomb several Iranian cities into oblivion, totally destruct the infrastructure, kill several million Iranians, invade the country with still more damage, and then occupy that country with real force for at least 10 years. You must de-islamize Iran, like you de-nazified Germany.
    Only after that kind of abject lession, people have a real tendency to learn from history.

    PS I am an Austrian, and I’m glad someone taught The Lesson to our parents/grandparents.

  38. Agree. The problem with Iraq, was that winning was not an objective. The objective was to persist the war, for the end of making profits for companies like Halliburton. The US could have won it easily otherwise, but they made excuses for not giving it 100%.

    I basically agree with the previous Kurt. You gotta play to win, not for the side effects of making people rich with only encourages keeping the war going rather than winning it.

  39. >> Indeed I can think of no example where a foreign intervention on our part has solved such a problem.

    Cuba, 1898.

  40. Sorry but this is ridiculous.
    You have no moral right to call on me and my family to risk our lives in a far away place I now nothing about.

    Go ahead, call me morally bankrupt and what not , that’s your right but taking over my life to satisfy your cravings for justice in some remote part of the world, is clearly going over the line.
    You , of all people, should know that.

    What makes this particular call to arms even more ridiculous is the fact that we are dealing here with people dying on the streets not as a result of external aggression, but simply because of poor choices made by their own parents.

    Ultimately, it is their own problem and they will have to solve it on their own.

    As you make your bed, so you must lie upon it.

  41. I think it’s worth separating two questions: (1) Would invasion be justified if it were feasible (which is to say, if it would be likely to do more good than harm)? (2) Is invasion feasible? (2) is undecidable, but (1) is easy: Yes.

  42. You don’t know anything at all about Iran or Persians if you think they will stand for a foreign invasion. That you think this is an even remotely viable strategy for promoting democracy in Iran tells me that you should stick to configuring servers and bragging about the size of your pistol. I doubt you’ve had much to do with the reform movement in Iran before this last week. How many Iranian political groups can you name without reaching for Google?

    I’m not usually this rude, but I really think you need to learn a little about Iran and consider some cold hard military facts before you start mouthing off about an invasion.

  43. Thank You Eric, I don’t know how to appreciate your support for Iranians. Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you

  44. Since everyone is apparently keen on promoting democracy, how about asking the opposition movement in Iran? Would a foreign invasion be welcomed by them? The last time the US supported an invasion of Iran is very much in living memory.

  45. > This whole situation just goes to show you how much of a joke democracy really is. Ahmadinejad probably would have won even without election fraud…

    I believe you don’t value your democracy. Iran is not USA with lots of resources, where people’s choice will affect everyone else in the world before their own nation. You choose between good or better (and that’s why sometimes people choose good). we choose between bad or worse (That’s why we can’t and we won’t and we didn’t miss a sparkle, such chance will be given to a developing country once in decades). Every single person I know hates Ahmadinejad, but invading Iran is not the solution for sure. Not recognizing Ahmadinjead’s government and sanctioning it is enough for Iranians to kick his a** and hopefully the supreme leader’s too. Free Iran

  46. Not to be mean or anything, but our European friends have been telling the US for years how much better things would be if we just followed their lead. They also tell us how strong they are.

    I think that it’s past time to take them up on their offer. Let them handle Iran and show us how it’s done.

  47. In situations where we confront radical evil, “harm is OK” as long as we cause less harm than we cure. Fortunately, this is not a difficult test to pass.

    Agreed, ESR, 100%. My only concerns in going to war with Iran are: 1) They probably have nukes and are likely crazy enough to use them. Do we want to chance an all-out nuclear war with Iran — even if it is only a remote one? I realize that Iran’s nuclear capabilities may not be nearly what ours is, but if they can get their hands on just one — just one! — ICBM, which U.S. city would you have them take out?

    2) From an economics theory standpoint, Russ Nelson’s comments are spot on. We don’t have unlimited military resources to throw at anyone, and we should be careful about how we deploy our military resources.

    Work out those two problems, and I’m with you, 100%.

  48. Oh, and one more thing about 2) When we s/PETA/USA/pets/citizens, who would the Iranians call upon to protect them? My guess is Russia.

  49. >>> Free Amerika. From democracy.

    Oh Har har, you are such a wise person!

    Look, you spelled America with a K! You are so post-modern!!!11!!eleventy1!

    You know, I really get tired of people who perfectly combine cynicism and idiocy….

    Baa baaa baa!

    And we did win in Iraq, you tards. We could win in Iran too if we just put our minds too it. In the long run the world would be better off.

    We do not want these theocrats getting nukes, really we don’t.

  50. esr: Air war is not sufficient, just seductive because it’s low-casualty and the politically soft option. Troops will have to go in, take ground, and actively destroy the basiji and the Iranian Guard.

    What, all the dead civilians don’t count as casualties, because they’re not American, and therefore insufficiently human?

    Wait, this looks familiar… “Troops will have to go in, take ground, and actively destroy the Republican Guard and the Baathist dead-enders.” Then, surely, we will be greeted as liberators.

    Um, do you remember the original reports from Abu Ghraib when it was breached post-liberation, the ones that made the American guards’ perverted antics later on seem like party games at a spa resort?

    Are you actually proposing that the evil done by your proxies be graded on a curve? Would you be happy to replace your blog’s subtitle with “Not As Bad As Saddam Hussein”?

    JP Russell: Trust me, we’re ready and willing (and by we, I mean American Soldiers). We don’t like the horseshit politics that have come out of the war in Iraq

    And this, folks, is why civilian control of the military is a good idea.

    C: because we’re doing so well in one war we can’t win, we should obviously start another one!

    I think you’re leaving out the Graveyard of Empires. But that’s okay; I sometimes forget about the war there as well.

    Morgan Greywolf: Oh, and one more thing about 2) When we s/PETA/USA/pets/citizens, who would the Iranians call upon to protect them? My guess is Russia.

    Are the Iranians actually calling for an invasion? Apart from Eric’s fevered fantasies about his notional heroes going off to fight yet another war on his behalf, is there any reason to think that the Iranians are going to call for an invasion? As far as I recall, the folks with the green armbands aren’t particularly keen on America, and it’s been said repeatedly that the best way to destroy the nascent movement there would be for America to co-opt it. What could possibly do more to prove Ahmadinejad’s thunderings about how America will invade and control the nation if they show the slightest sign of weakness… than to invade and control the nation when the regime shows the slightest sign of violence?

    Like Hilzoy said: “Violence is not a way of getting where you want to go, only more quickly. Its existence changes your destination. If you use it, you had better be prepared to find yourself in the kind of place it takes you to.” When the justification goes from “they’re inhuman monsters, and the world is safer without them” to “they’re paragons of Jeffersonian democracy, and we must help them”, but the answer–kill! kill! kill!–stays the same, it raises some questions about your motivations. Or, if you’re sincere, it raises some questions about how easily co-opted you are. (Anyone else remember how the rights of Afghan women were going to be non-negotiable?)

  51. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/users/login.php?story_id=3426&URL=http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3426

    Elections in Iran have always been a sham, the Supreme ruler determines who wins and runs what.

    What we need to do is petropolitics, check out the article by Thomas Friedman above, the only reason nations like this are allowed to stand and continue on is because the West supplies them with money because we need there resources… Get us off the oil and you will see Middle Eastern countries “modernizing…”

    With regards to invasion… Well I personally think that everyone in Iran deserves the change to buy a gun.

    And if we do invade, we damn well better have a good plan to win the peace, after we crush whatever military Iran has.

  52. Are the Iranians actually calling for an invasion? Apart from Eric’s fevered fantasies about his notional heroes going off to fight yet another war on his behalf, is there any reason to think that the Iranians are going to call for an invasion?

    Well, there was a woman on the video desperately calling for the outside world to intervene. Of course, there’s a difference between intervention and invasion. On the other hand,what is happening on the video is perhaps disturbing enough to call for the use of diplomatic and, if necessary, military force to coerce the Iranian regime into ceasing its ongoing murder, torture and other civil rights violations against their own citizens.

    I do think that diplomacy should be deployed first. But if the Iranian government refuses to respect international law, we still need to do something, and that if something involves turning Tehran into glass parking lot, so be it, so long as we proceed prudently and in accordance with our own and the Iranian people’s — best interests in mind.

  53. A few thoughts about interventions in general – there are three cases.

    There is generally no point in interventing in the internal conflicts of civilized countries because usually they can sort their problems out with way less bloodshed than what an intervention would cause.

    Interventing in uncivilized countries isn’t such a good idea either, because you simply cannot build up a democracy from nothing if the rule of law is not already in there in everyday customs i.e. the local kings or whatevers are fairly moderate and just. You can’t really do much good in cases like the Rwanda genocide or Kongo civil war, unless you are willing to re-colonize them, which is politically infeasible. This is why the Afghanistan intervention looks like a failure.

    Thus, intervention makes sense when a country is more or less on hovering on the edge of civilization, pretty close to it but just not there yet. In such cases you can probably tilt the balance with fairly little bloodshed and help create a stable order.

  54. Morgan Greywolf: [I]f the Iranian government refuses to respect international law, we still need to do something, and that if something involves turning Tehran into glass parking lot, so be it, so long as we proceed prudently and in accordance with our own and the Iranian people’s — best interests in mind.

    Perhaps I lack the moral clarity that seems to be in vogue at the moment, but I have a hard time imagining how reducing a city full of people–the people whose bravery is being lauded here–to a carbonized smear is in their “best interests”, as you put it.

    Shenpen: Thus, intervention makes sense when a country is more or less on hovering on the edge of civilization, pretty close to it but just not there yet. In such cases you can probably tilt the balance with fairly little bloodshed and help create a stable order.

    You seem remarkably confident in the ability of outside actors to impose “a stable order”; stability is a sensible goal, yes, but it’s not the same as freedom or self-determination, which, I think, are the important issues for the Iranians. Murdering half of them and ruling the other half with an iron fist while claiming it’s for their own good, the savages, doesn’t seem like a path that would lead to things getting better. Eric seems to think that things are bad enough over there that a whole lot of indiscriminate killing couldn’t make things worse. I disagree.

  55. “But if the Iranian government refuses to respect international law, we still need to do something, and that if something involves turning Tehran into glass parking lot, so be it”

    No we don’t.

    Do you realize the military of this country is already deployed in more than 150 countries ?
    This fact alone makes a mockery of everything US Founders stood for.

    We are not only looking for dragons to slay but actively creating them.

  56. “Morals are subjective.”

    Morals are intersubjective: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersubjective – they are shared within groups. Groups small or large, often overlapping, often containing each other etc. Group membership is usually based on shared moral sentiments and disagreeing with them basically places you outside the group.

    This can have consequences small or big, depending on what the given groups are. For example, thinking striptease is OK will only place you outside the hardliner churches and the feminist activist groups, which is probably not a big deal, you don’t lose much. Thinking mass murder is OK if it’s some funny exotic culture that’s committing it places you outside pretty much every group containing even halfway decent people…

  57. Shenpen: Thinking mass murder is OK if it’s some funny exotic culture that’s committing it places you outside pretty much every group containing even halfway decent people…

    Whereas thinking mass murder is OK if it’s performed by The Greatest Nation On Earth places you among the highest echelons of pretty much every group of Serious Foreign Policy Thinkers. Funny, that.

  58. I’m with the naysayers on this one. If the Iranian people want to change their government they should grab this opportunity to do so. It is their responsibility not ours. They are not children, but brave, self determining patriots. The United States should offer them our support, our encouragement, our best wishes, and prayers, we should sell them the tools they need, we should offer them intelligence, but it would be a huge mistake for us to send combat troops or air support.

    Eric, your gut reaction is honorable — it is the sheepdog in you. However, a nation needs to make its own freedom if it is ever to pwn it. That which is bought on someone else’s dime is considered won cheap, and of little value. To grok freedom, you have to pay its price. (How easy that is to say in my comfortable, air condition office — however, my hypocrisy does not change the necessity of this truth.)

    Revolutionary war is a necessary birthing process for a new nation. It is a catharsis needed to make a new nation viable. The blood of tyrants AND patriots are both required to refresh the tree of liberty. My best wishes and moral support are with the brave Iranians. I hope the prevail in this time of need and come out as newer better nation.

  59. It’s seeing stuff like this that make me want to puke whenever I hear someone claim that no culture, society, government, or way of life is really, really, trulies better or worse – just “different”. Or when people act like all the problems and evil in the world stem from nasty evil white rich men in western countries.

  60. “First, do no harm.” Before we start in with the strafing runs, I have a modest proposal.

    The US should offer citizenship to everyone in Iran. Allow anyone who wants to escape from the mess over there to come here and start a new life.

    Had we done this with the Jews during WWII it would have saved a lot of lives. This policy is guaranteed to save lives and reduce human suffering and – unlike warfare – it does so without much risk of causing more suffering and loss of life. It also would constitute a huge PR win – every dissident who moves here demonstrates a lack of confidence in the existing regime.

    People are suffering and we need to do something about that. We could give those people the right of exit. If we’re going to do anything at all, summon the political will to do that first. It’s cheap, it’s moral, and it doesn’t put any soldiers or civilians from either side in harm’s way.

  61. > The US should offer citizenship to everyone in Iran.

    I think this is a great idea. There is a transport issue, since not everyone in Iran can afford to move to the USA. But it would probably still be cheaper to move all the refugees over at the USA’s expense than to engage in one week of bombing.

  62. I’m with the naysayers on this one. If the Iranian people want to change their government they should grab this opportunity to do so. It is their responsibility not ours. They are not children, but brave, self determining patriots. The United States should offer them our support, our encouragement, our best wishes, and prayers, we should sell them the tools they need, we should offer them intelligence,

    We’ve probably done much of these last two already. I do know for certain that as of about ~3 years ago, we’ve had a military special forces and intelligence ops on the ground in Iran. I do not know where, exactly what they’re doing there, or how much of that presence is still there, but the knowledge comes a friend who is currently serving in special ops in the region and has been to Iran. Of course, anyone who knows how our government works should not be surprised by this. I salute our brave men and women on the ground, fighting for freedom, whether or not I always agree with the actions of my government.

    However, if it does come down that necessary catharsis you speak of, where will the U.S. stand? My guess is, we will be sending troops in support of any bloody revolution that does come out of this. It’s really a question of whether or not Iran is to that point yet.

  63. (First paragraph should have blockquote tags, not ‘quote’ tags. Sorry, /. is encouraging bad habits.

  64. >Lancet stands on its own.
    The Lancet study was actually dubunked by a UN study that put the civilian casualty figure (at the time) around 65,000 (and you can’t possibly claim the UN was pro-US at the time).

    The problem I have with invading Iran (and the big difference between Iran and Iraq) is that the current regime would actually be supported by at least 50% of Iranians if the US invaded and this percentage would grow as time went on. This is similar to Vietnam where 50%-60% of the population was aggressively antagonistic towards the US. This is unlike Iraq where only about 10%-20% opposed the removal of Saddam Hussian at the beginning of the war (and Iraq has barely emerged as somewhat, sort of stable). The crushing of Iran’s conventional military forces would be easy. Dealing with an insurgency with the backing of 50% of the population would be nearly impossible.

  65. disturbing enough to call for the use of diplomatic and, if necessary, military force

    There is no such thing as diplomatic force. Diplomacy is the last resort of the feckless. It’s fundamentally impossible to coerce any country through diplomacy to go to where it fundamentally does not want to go.

    The only tool that works between countries is raw, naked military power. Sure, you can try talking first – but if you don’t back up your words with the willingness to use real force when the words fail, your words will quickly be rendered meaningless.

  66. Have to agree with Jessica. Well put. If there was a time to intervene directly with a large military force, it would be after the Iranian patriots have gotten organized, shown that they can hold their own and have made real large scale across the board sacrifice. Furthermore, their governing body would have to then formally request aid from us (we could encourage them to do that of course). At that point, our forces would probably serve much like the French fleet did in our own revolutionary war, as a supporting force that assists the Iranians. It would still have to be their fight. We would support them with supplies, advisors, transportation and perhaps some air power. Better yet, smuggle Iranians out, train them as pilots, give them their own squadron of F-16s, lend them an old carrier, and let them provide their own air power.

    To drive the point home, what really solidified Maliki’s support and rallied the people behind him was when he, without the ‘go ahead’ of the US military initiated his own fight against the Sadr militia using Iraqi security forces, and, after a few setbacks, won.

  67. While my knowledge of history lags many of the regulars here, some of the lessons from my high school US history class seem relevant. During our own revolutionary war, most of Europe got dragged into the fight as well. We started it, but only after proving our values and resolve through action, did the French decide to back us, followed by many of their allies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolutionary_War as a reference). I’m guessing similar examples exist elsewhere in history as well.

    I’m not yet ready to advocate for the US (or any other foreign power, for that matter) to enter the fray in Iran. This “revolution” is only a few weeks old and I’m not sure there has been enough time to really determine the level of resolve of the folks actively fighting this out on the ground. However, if blood continues to flow, the resolve of the majority of the population has not waned, and the social values of the revolution are aligned with those of the global community they seek to join (at least more so than the current regime), it may be justifiable to get involved.

    The gray area to this argument remains when is the right time to get involved. I’m not sure the answer to this. I can say this though, without a clear idea of who is leading the fight and without knowledge of what social norms they are looking to cultivate, we probably shouldn’t pick sides just yet.

  68. >Perhaps I lack the moral clarity that seems to be in vogue at the moment, but I have a hard time imagining how reducing a city full of people–the people whose bravery is being lauded here–to a carbonized smear is in their “best interests”, as you put it.

    grendelkhan is right about this. Strategic bombing would be the wrong tool – the Iranian people are not our enemy, only their government is.

    >Are the Iranians actually calling for an invasion?

    I note with bemusement that many commenters on this thread who claim the Iranians would rally against a foreign invasion are ignoring what the Iranians themselves are saying. The last Iranian voice I heard was literally pleading for intervention – and all of the two or three Iranians who have shown up on this thread are thanking me for calling for it.

  69. grendelkhan : Perhaps I lack the moral clarity that seems to be in vogue at the moment, but I have a hard time imagining how reducing a city full of people–the people whose bravery is being lauded here–to a carbonized smear is in their “best interests”, as you put it.

    esr: grendelkhan is right about this. Strategic bombing would be the wrong tool – the Iranian people are not our enemy, only their government is.

    I know you two couldn’t see it, but while I was making the”turning Tehran into a glass parking lot” comment, my tongue was fully in my cheek. :) What was actually meant by that was “making war with the Iranian government” — :”Tehran” meaning “the Iranian government” as Tehran is the seat of government there.

    In any respect, I think some kind of strategic bombing to eliminate Iran’s nuclear capabilties should be considered.

  70. While my knowledge of history lags many of the regulars here, some of the lessons from my high school US history class seem relevant. During our own revolutionary war, most of Europe got dragged into the fight as well. We started it, but only after proving our values and resolve through action, did the French decide to back us,

    Your knowledge is certainly not flawed in this respect. You do remember your US history correctly. Also bear in mind that we did not get involved in World War II until the Japanese and the Germans forced our hands by attacking us. The question of whether or not to go to war is not a decision to be entered into lightly. If esr’s gut reaction is correct, and I suspect that it may be, a full scale civil war may actually break out in Iran in the days and weeks to come, and then, IMHO, is when we in the U.S. should consider whether or not we want to back the revolutionaries by deploying an invasion force to Iran.

  71. wow…war with Iran….that’s a bad idea on so many levels.

    (1) I agree that president A probably would have won without election fraud. I think we’re seeing a stark contrast between Tehran and Iran. Tehran doesn’t seem to care for him much, but my money is that he’s well thought of in the rest of Iran.

    (2) Militarily would we win? No doubt in my mind. But…remember the Iran/Iraq war? They don’t seem to get nauseated at the idea of 1,000,000 dead. *WE* don’t have the stomach for the fight we would need to pacify Iran. Best guess on my part – after all the dust settled, 3M dead. Just wait until that shows up on the evening news. The piles of Iranian corpses…especially when they have to resort to sending 14 yo boys.

    (3) Like Jessica said…we need to “wait and see” on this one, and as others have said, our role would be more akin to the French aiding us in our own Revolutionary war, providing capital, expertise, and some firepower here and there, but its their fight. They need to own it and win it.

  72. >I know you two couldn’t see it, but while I was making the”turning Tehran into a glass parking lot” comment, my tongue was fully in my cheek. :)

    Well, that makes more sense. Such bloody–mindedness did seem out of character for you. I wondered at it.

  73. I’m very leery of the idea of invasion of Iran, especially now when the only conflict is govt. vs. protesters, and so the US would be carrying most of the weight (and hence losing legitimacy in the eyes of the world). I think the correct time for intervention would be after actual conflict breaks out in Iran, and so we could simply aid an existing resistance.

  74. Greg:

    ‘I bet more people die from hunger, drugs, and lack of proper medical care every day in the US, than there ever will in this “genocide”.’

    You might be right about drugs and one might be able to make feeble argument about proper medical care, but “hunger”???
    Are you maybe referring to anorexia? …because from “lack of proper medical care” you seem to be implying that people die of hunger in the US as a result of poverty?

    If you think this, really … then you’re either a fool or a propaganda agent. I certainly hope its the latter – I can respect a clever adversary, but fools of your caliber diminish my faith in humanity as a whole.

  75. >I agree that president A probably would have won without election fraud

    No,. There’s been a statistical analysis of the election returns that calculated no more than a 1:200 chance of that.

    Humans, it turns out, are very bad at making up random numbers. They leave patterns that can be used to detect accounting fraud and cooked ballot totals. Not only do we know the election was cooked, but we have a pretty good idea which subtotals were screwed with.

  76. esr: I note with bemusement that many commenters on this thread who claim the Iranians would rally against a foreign invasion are ignoring what the Iranians themselves are saying. The last Iranian voice I heard was literally pleading for intervention – and all of the two or three Iranians who have shown up on this thread are thanking me for calling for it.

    You’re citing the voice of one panicked, traumatized woman and two commenters on your blog–commenters who, by their presence here, would be likely to share your politics, at least in part–and this, by you, is enough evidence to go in, bombs a-blazin’. How would you plan to attack the Iranian government, but not the Iranian people? Do you have knowledge of some kind of magical fairy bombs that only kill Bad Guys, leaving mint-scented Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy! in their place?

    Morgan Greywolf: In any respect, I think some kind of strategic bombing to eliminate Iran’s nuclear capabilties should be considered.

    Support for the self-determination of the Iranian people only goes so far, I suppose.

  77. > In any respect, I think some kind of strategic bombing to
    > eliminate Iran’s nuclear capabilties should be considered.

    This is a legitimate self defense claim, and I agree it should be considered. However, it is unlikely that now is the right time to do so.

  78. >How would you plan to attack the Iranian government, but not the Iranian people? Do you have knowledge of some kind of magical fairy bombs that only kill Bad Guys, leaving mint-scented Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy! in their place?

    Nope. There would be collateral damage, and it would be ugly. After hearing that interview, though, I’m no longer in doubt that going in would be the best outcome for the Iranians, despite this.

    >Support for the self-determination of the Iranian people only goes so far, I suppose.

    Indeed. I trust the U.S. with nuclear weapons, based on its track record. The Brits. too, and I suppose (grudgingly) the French. Iran? No. Despite the fact that I respect them a whole helluva lot more than any Arab nation, their political culture and the odds of leakage to terrorists are too high. Self-determination within their borders, yes; nukes they can throw at others, no.

    Ask me that question again when they’ve maintained a stable secular democracy for, oh, at least 30 years. Then I might have a different answer.

  79. I was thinking about how could you put the most pressure on the government with the least harm for the people and the correct answer jumped out as almost obvious: train a few hundred locals in the use of sniper rifles and bazookas and supply them. I think a few Counter Strike-style headshots on high-ranking politicians plus a bazooka rocket exploding in A.’s convoy, all scored by _locals_, would quickly make them see reason, no? Why wasn’t it tried before, such as, in Iraq or Yugoslavia? It sounds like a very good and almost obvious idea.

  80. grendelkhan: Support for the self-determination of the Iranian people only goes so far, I suppose.

    The public opinion in Iran is that they agree with enriching uranium for peaceful purposes, but not for nuclear weapons. There is plenty of reason to believe that the Iranian regime is either producing or attempting to produce nuclear weapons.

  81. >train a few hundred locals in the use of sniper rifles

    That’s not easy or fast. It takes a lot of training and a special mind-set.

  82. I was thinking about how could you put the most pressure on the government with the least harm for the people and the correct answer jumped out as almost obvious: train a few hundred locals in the use of sniper rifles and bazookas and supply them.

    We have trained resistance movements before. How do you suppose Saddam Hussein got into power?

  83. >I agree that president A probably would have won without election fraud

    I think it also worth pointing out that just because a liberty movement does not have majoritarian support does not delegitimize it. In the much vaunted American War of Independence, from what I have read, the population was split into three roughly equal parts: revolutionaries, tories (that is to say supporters of the British Crown) and don’t-care-one-way-or-the-others.

    Any person has the right to fight for his liberty, regardless of how many of his fellows oppose him, and regardless of what happens at the ballot box. Liberty is an intrinsic right, regardless of any extrinsic circumstances. Democracy is at best a blunt instrument to fight tyranny, and often a matrix of tyranny: See the democratically elected US President as an example of the latter. Feel free to choose either Bush, Obama, or both depending on your personal preferences.

    If a tyrant uses a putative democratic vote to add some legitimacy to his tyranny, and if that vote is demonstrably faulty, then that may be a very helpful pretext (if not a justification) to try to tear down the tyranny. For the people of Iran, or at least for those who care about liberty, this is a great opportunity, but I fear for the terrible cost that will be paid.

    I also fear that should they win that their revolution will be more French than American. Let us hope for a Persian Washington or a Jefferson, rather than a Robespierre or Napoleon. Unfortunately, French revolutions are far more common than American ones.

  84. >We have trained resistance movements before. How do you suppose Saddam Hussein got into power?

    You’re historically confused. The U.S. sponsored some fairly loathsome types during the Cold War (I think justifiably, in view of the stakes). Hussein was not one of them, lefty propaganda to the contrary. The reasons for this weren’t principled revulsion but simply that the U.S. never developed much influence over the Ba’ath movement.

    Which, by the way, had started out rather promisingly in the 1940s. There was a time when the Ba’ath parities in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world were the leading lights of Westernizing reform. Alas, they got co-opted by corrupt local strongmen. Hussein was only the most extreme case.

  85. The US should offer citizenship to everyone in Iran. Allow anyone who wants to escape from the mess over there to come here and start a new life.

    At first blush, I think this is a great idea, and not just for the obvious moral reasons. Not only would it foster goodwill with Iranians, but it would also allow us to siphon off their educated class, making Iran that much less of a threat.

  86. >>How do you suppose Saddam Hussein got into power?

    >You’re historically confused.

    Well I don’t know one way or another, but I know a fact that seems to support ESR’s case. During the Six Day War, Ba’athist Syria was clearly the second most dangerous enemy of Israel and what’s perhaps even more important, the favourite Near-Eastern pet of the Soviet Union. The connections were close. So close that the Israeli army have found some Russian novels in the abandonded bunkers of the Golan – it’s likely some Soviet “military consultants” were actually in those bunkers, right behind the Israeli frontier.

    During that time, Saddam was in prison. Then he escaped, rised in the Ba’athist party and executed a coup in 1968.

    Would the USA have supported a Ba’athist in such a historical scenario? Someone with close ties to the Soviet’s favourite pet country in the Near East? I find it very unlikely.

  87. Well, maybe I hear too much lefty propaganda in my circle of friends, but it is still my understanding that the CIA was cooperating with Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party in the overthrow of Abdul al Karim Qassim and that the CIA also was allegedly responsible for Abdul Rahman Arif’s (Saddam’s direct predecessor) overthrow as well. Specifically, the CIA trained Saddam Hussein as an assassin.

    Or are these articles complete fabrications? (I’ve read other articles in print as well along the same vein.)

  88. >Or are these articles complete fabrications? (I’ve read other articles in print as well along the same vein.)

    I wouldn’t call the Wikipedia one a fabrication, but you’ll note that all the links from CIA to Hussein after 1963 are conjectural. As I read the evidence we had some leverage on his patrons, but not on him – as Roger Morris said,”these guys can’t be trusted”. Hussein’s rise to power is actually correlated with a loss in CIA influence over the Ba’ath, not a gain. He cozied up to the Russians instead.

    Mind you, I say this in the belief that sponsoring Hussein would not necessarily have been a bad thing at the time – he wasn’t yet the monster he later became. But I’m pretty sure we didn’t do it. Perhaps we should have; we might have been better able to restrain him later.

  89. >>I agree that president A probably would have won without election fraud
    >No,. There’s been a statistical analysis of the election returns that calculated no more than a 1:200 chance of that.

    Are you sure about this? I’ve no doubt there was some election fraud; the question at hand is whether the amount of fraud was decisive or whether the same candidate would have won without the fraud, albeit by a smaller margin.

  90. Are you sure about this? I’ve no doubt there was some election fraud; the question at hand is whether the amount of fraud was decisive or whether the same candidate would have won without the fraud, albeit by a smaller margin.

    The reports I saw were identical to the statement esr made. Essentially they used math to prove that the election was a fraud.

  91. >Are you sure about this?

    Yes.

    Unmentioned in the article were two relevant facts: (1) if Ahmadinejad had actually won a fair count, the regime would not have had to engage in such blatantly obvious after-the-fact rigging, and (2) historically, Iranian elections show a clear turnout-related pattern. When turnout goes above 60% (as this time) the candidates associated with reform win.

    Now I’m going to supply an interpretation, noting that this isn’t in my sources. I think control of the elections in Iran depends on suppressing the urban vote so the rural peasants (who are solidly behind Ahmadinejad and the mullahs) can dominate the totals. They failed to hold turnout down this time, and slapped a patch on the problem by clumsily falsifying the subtotals. The urbanites, especially in Tehran, rightly smelled a rat and blew up.

  92. esr: somebody posited that “president A probably would have won without election fraud”. In response you claimed statistical evidence suggests there was “no more than a 1:200 chance of that.” Then you linked to the washington post article that ends “in other words, a bet that the numbers are clean is a one in two-hundred long shot”, presumably thinking that supported your assertion.

    But: there is no inconsistency whatsoever between the views “President A probably would have won without election fraud” and “we are 99.5% certain there was election fraud.” A 1-in-200 chance the numbers are clean is not the same thing as a 1-in-200 chance President A would have won without any vote-rigging. You can’t get there from here unless you drag in several further -and rather unlikely – assumptions.

  93. >If you mean the one I think you mean, there’s this response:

    The response appears to be addressing a different form of analysis than the WaPo article I cited. Responder debunks an argument based on time-series correlations of vote totals; the WaPo argument is based on non-random distribution of the digits in individual figures.

  94. >But: there is no inconsistency whatsoever

    No logical inconsistency, but a pragmatic one. The results indicate that they futzed with the numbers after the fact at a central location, rather than stuffing ballot boxes before the fact (you’d get a different pattern of fraud from that, probably more genuinely random-looking). That says to me that they got Moussavi-wins results from the real counts, otherwise why risk it?

  95. I’m certainly not half the mathematician that esr is, but non-random distribution of digits, combined with the fact that Ahmadinejad appears to have done much better than his rival in districts that clearly would have to gone to Mousavi, seems to me to indicate that the election numbers are suspect.

    Aside from the math, just imagine if the 2008 presidential election numbers showed, say, Los Angeles County, California, voting overwhelmingly for John McCain. Who wouldn’t suspect election fraud at that point?

  96. We have trained resistance movements before. How do you suppose Saddam Hussein got into power?

    Forget Saddam. Iranians are all too familiar with these sorts of shenanigans on home ground — remember Operation Ajax?

    That’s precisely why American military intervention in Iranian politics would be A Bad Idea. Independent freedom-loving hackers lending support, yes; government-organized boots on the ground, no.

  97. >Aside from the math, just imagine if the 2008 presidential election numbers showed, say, Los Angeles County, California, voting overwhelmingly for John McCain. Who wouldn’t suspect election fraud at that point?

    That’s a good analogy to what actually happened. Together with the strong statistical evidence of fiddling, I think the case is proven not absolutely but beyond reasonable doubt.

  98. >train a few hundred locals in the use of sniper rifles

    This is essentially the approach we initially tried to use in Afghanistan in their resistance to the Russians, and we found that to allow the resistance to have any effectiveness, we had to give them many more resources and much more training than just a few sniper rifles and rockets. Anecdotally, I can attest from personal experience that training volunteers from your own culture while utilizing a massive budget and long-developed methods is still *really hard*. Trying to train people in another culture with a limited budget and lacking traditional methods and techniques is an extremely difficult process that is (until recent attempts) the province of specialists (e.g. the Green Berets). Pointing a gun at somebody nearby and pulling the trigger is pretty simple – teaching someone how to maintain and actually aim that same gun takes at least a few weeks to really sink in. Teaching that person to coordinate with his compatriots and for that coordination to be effective is an even more difficult undertaking that requires leadership which is an even harder skill to train. In other words, while I’m a big proponent of supporting and training foreign forces that align with our interests, it’s a more involved and expensive prospect than many people realize.

  99. Morgan: the argument isn’t over whether we should suspect election fraud. We do suspect election fraud. The question is whether the fraud was decisive – whether it changed the net outcome. You can get from “there was fraud” to “the net result changed” easily if you assume the regime has a specific degree of omniscience, omnipotence, and ambivalence, but if you weaken any of those assumptions there’s a decent chance some degree of fraud would accompany the same candidate winning. I conclude from the fact of fraud that someone in power worried the election might be uncomfortably close, not that the opposition candidate was necessarily winning. To elaborate on those assumptions:

    Omniscience: if the regime knows exactly what the outcome is going to be they can confidently refrain from intervening unless it’s necessary. Contrariwise if there’s some degree of uncertainty – which there is – they might want to build in a buffer as an insurance policy against surprises. Even if their candidate seems to be winning, if the early rounds are close, there’s an incentive to pad the numbers. (And if you don’t start padding from the beginning or don’t keep it up later, your efforts will show up in the stats. You can’t wait until the end to see if you need to pad if results are released in stages.)

    Omnipotence: if the regime has perfect control over all the results in all regions at all times, it’s easy to pick and choose and just cheat as much as you need to in the areas you need to. Contrariwise, if the vote-riggers can’t easily talk to the vote-counters or the malevolent puppetmasters that want the vote rigged, they might go overboard and rig in circumstances they don’t need to. The vote-rigging might be like hiring a hit man – something you set in motion well in advance and then can’t stop later even if you wanted to – open communication channels reduce necessary deniability.

    Ambivalence: if the regime doesn’t care about the strength of the election signal, there’s no incentive to pad more than enough to win. Contrariwise, if the puppetmasters would like to see their candidate not merely win but win by a landslide so as to send a clear message marginalizing the opposition, then there’s an incentive to pad.

  100. >The question is whether the fraud was decisive

    Agreed. I consider that case proven beyond reasonable doubt by convergence of four independent lines of evidence.

  101. I believe the paper that the WashPo editorial was based upon (using Benford’s Law) was considered separately in this post by Nate: http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/06/karroubis-unlucky-7s.html . His general coverage of the Iranian election points to far more convincing indications of fraud: http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/search/label/iran

    I admit, as someone who shares your horror but not your conclusions, to being confused about your moral stance. I, like many of your correspondents, can’t imagine how war would fix this problem without causing many, many more in its wake. I’ve also seen the testimony of many similar massacres, from Tiananmen to Yugoslavia to Uzbeckistan. How should a government of millions of citizens choose which of these citizens to pro-actively defend through acts of war?

    I know that you have said that, in the absence of living in a perfect ancap world where there would be private enforcement, we must depend on governments to fight these wars you call for. I guess I have a double moral question for you. Why do think that a State has the right and ability to conduct these battles on your behalf without putting its own interests first? And, secondly, suppose we *did* live in an ancap world, and you saw such scenes. What would you do then?

  102. Morgan: the argument isn’t over whether we should suspect election fraud.

    Yes, I agree. Yet, I don’t think it was just uncomfortably close. esr is right here. He has demonstrated multiple independent lines of evidence to suggest that the vote counts were fiddled with from a central location. The numbers didn’t just come back too clean, and with non-random digits, but they came through too quickly. I agree that they wanted it to look like a landslide, but I think they wanted it to look a landslide to detract attention away from the results. What happened in the last extremely close election here in the United States? Al Gore and others called for a recount. Investigations occurred and now we have the words “hanging chads” and “pregnant chads” forever etched in our memories.

    At least I don’t live in Florida…oh wait, except I moved here two years ago… ;)

  103. esr:
    > I note with bemusement that many commenters on this thread who claim the Iranians would rally against a foreign invasion are ignoring what the Iranians themselves are saying. The last Iranian voice I heard was literally pleading for intervention – and all of the two or three Iranians who have shown up on this thread are thanking me for calling for it.

    One of the Iranians in this thread:
    > Every single person I know hates Ahmadinejad, but invading Iran is not the solution for sure. Not recognizing Ahmadinjead’s government and sanctioning it is enough for Iranians to kick his a** and hopefully the supreme leader’s too. Free Iran

    So your sample size just shrunk to 2?

    None of the organised forces capable of maintaining a challenge to the Mullahs’ power would ever support an overt US invasion. This goes for the leftist Mujahedin, WPI and Tudeh, and elements who are still loyal to the Pahlavi throne. Rumour suggests that they already accept some forms of assistance from Western agencies where there is a confluence of interests.

    My biggest worry is that elements of the reform movement least able to defend themselves are being encouraged to take risks by leaders who are not able to defend them, and in so doing facilitating a purge that will set the reform movement back. It’s just a fear – I don’t know enough about the ever changing strategic landscape to assign this a high probability.

  104. “When Obama does not take a stance, the very next day these oppressive regimes will regard this as a signal. This is a test for his government,” said Ayman Nour, a noted Egyptian opposition politician who was recently released from jail. “If they can turn a blind eye to their enemy, they can turn a blind eye to any action here in Egypt.”

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31559156/ns/world_news-washington_post/

  105. Shorter ESR: one woman shouts touchingly on TV = mandate for military action against her country.

  106. Trey Jackson said: “…morals are subjective, let’s move on.”

    Oh, really? If one believes in universal rights, such as the freedom to choose-or not to choose-to practice a particular religion, or that women are equal to men rather than mere breeding stock for example, then morals are NOT subjective, and those who don’t honor such universal rights must be judged.

  107. Eric (NOT esr) says
    >Oh, really? If one believes in universal rights … then morals are NOT subjective

    Art is subjective too, that doesn’t mean that one cannot make any statements about art. To say that art is subjective is not to say that a Da Vinci is not better than little Susie’s fingerpainting. Rather it is to say that you must make a convincing case explaining why “Mona Lisa” is more compelling than “Mommy and me in the park.”

    If one wants to make the case that women are equal to men, or that one has the right to practice any religion one wants then one must make the case, not appeal to some undefined moral authority, untouchable and undefined. That these truths are not self evident is manifest: through most of human history, and even in many modern societies, they are not considered true by the large majority of people, including women and religious people. On the contrary, many of the putative objective moral authorities that have been appealed to over the ages specifically state that women are not equal or that there is one true religion, and the infidels deserve to die.

  108. That these truths are not self evident is manifest: through most of human history, and even in many modern societies, they are not considered true by the large majority of people, including women and religious people.

    Are you seriously suggesting that in the United States or most of Europe that the majority of the people do not consider religious freedom or the equality of women as self-evident? Maybe some — like the Religious Right in the U.S., might not practice that, but then again, the Religous Right, for all the noise making they do, are definitely not in the majority.

  109. > Are you seriously suggesting that in the United States or most of Europe that
    > the majority of the people do not consider religious freedom or the equality
    > of women as self-evident?

    No, I didn’t say anything even close to that. On the contrary, the societies you mention are some of the very few that do hold these truths self evident. It is not true in the modern societies in nearly all of Asia and nearly all of Africa. It is also not true (though to a lesser extent) in most of South and Central America. Similarly, it is not true in Oceania, with the exception of Australia and New Zealand. Or to put it another way, the only places that hold these truths self evident are European derived civilizations. There are some additional exceptions, and of course there are bozos and heroes in both civilization groups. Additionally, historically, it is a brand new thing in Europe and European civilizations, being “self evident” to most of their population probably only in the last one hundred (or less) years. I would remind you that in England, only a non Roman Catholic can ascend to the throne, and you are unlikely to have any political success in Italy if you are not a Roman Catholic.

    As I said in my previous comment, I am not talking about the philosophical underpinnings of states, but what the large majority of the people hold to be self evident.

  110. @JessicaBoxer

    It might reduce confusion if you say “present-day” societies rather than “modern” societies.

  111. @JessicaBoxer

    Do you believe in universal rights? That is to say, do you believe that there are rights to which all of humanity is entitled?

  112. > “present-day” societies rather than “modern”

    “Present-day” is a synonymous with one of the meanings of modern. But that you for the clarification.

  113. >Do you believe in universal rights? That is to say, do you believe
    > that there are rights to which all of humanity is entitled?

    Do you believe Da Vinci was a better artist than Susie?

    Yes, I believe that there are certain things that all humans are entitiled to. I am going to bet though that I think all humans are entitled to some things that you don’t think they are entitled to, and you are going to think there are some things they are entitled to that I don’t. That is because these measures are subjective.

    You see Eric, some people imagine all the people sharing all the world. They imagine no possessions, and no religion. Personally, I think they are dreamers, but, probably they am not the only ones. Perhaps someday you will join them Eric. And perhaps, at that time the world will really live as one.

    However such an imagined view of the world is anathema to me. I imagine, that it will happen when I am sixty four living in a yellow submarine.

  114. Gotta agree with Russ Nelson: is there a greater act of cognitive dissonance for an anarcho-capitalist like esr than banging the drums for a statist war with a country that has very little to do with us, other than the big pile of oil they happen to be sitting on? Also, despite the reformist impulses of Mousavi, he’s a centrist that got conservative support himself: this is not a real revolution. Obviously one hopes for a sea change in Iranian politics but anything other than individual volunteering, like you’re doing with the underground internet stuff, can’t be justified and clearly won’t go anywhere.

  115. (Dean) a cowardly suicide bomber

    Not cowardly enough to be scared of death, but we had this conversation before. Is that you, Dean? I mean, the old Dean.

    (Ajay) Gotta agree with Russ Nelson

    He speaks the truth, indeed.

    is there a greater act of cognitive dissonance for an anarcho-capitalist like esr than banging the drums for a statist war with a country that has very little to do with us, other than the big pile of oil they happen to be sitting on?

    ESR evolved into a new kind of anarcho-capitalist after 9-11.

  116. Eric, have you done any analysis of what it would take to intervene in Iraq? For example, whether the US military has enough soldiers to do it without a draft?

  117. @JessicaBoxer: As Ed pointed out, I misunderstood your use of the word ‘modern,’ which has multiple meanings and connotations. The United States and, indeed, most European-derived civilizations are often viewed as ‘modern,’ in part because they have, generally, libertarian (small “l”) beliefs as a result of the spread of Enlightenment philosophy, in addition to the technological achievements that grew, also, largely as a result of the spread of that same philosophy. Much of that philosophy has bled into other nations around the world, including in the East. More recently, Japan, for example, has had their own mini age of enlightenment that began largely in the early part of the last century. I think in some ways they are still going through it.

    You see Eric, some people imagine all the people sharing all the world. They imagine no possessions, and no religion. Personally, I think they are dreamers, but, probably they am not the only ones. Perhaps someday you will join them Eric. And perhaps, at that time the world will really live as one.

    Ahhhh…Lennonist philosophy. :-P

    @Adrian:

    ESR evolved into a new kind of anarcho-capitalist after 9-11.

    Yeah, I think most everyone’s politics in the West were affected by 9/11 and the events that followed.

  118. > cognitive dissonance for an anarcho-capitalist like esr than banging the drums for a statist war

    Where I live, the government owns the roads. If an anarcho-capitalist want to drive to a demonstration against the Iranian atrocities, should he not do so? Where I live, it is against the law to carry a weapon in public, that right is restricted to government agents. If an anarcho-capitalist see someone being held up at gunpoint, should he, in his disarmed state, not call these selfsame police? If a state has monopolized the use of military power, and military action is necessary, should an anarcho-capitalist not use that military force to achieve that end?

    Using government roads, calling the cops, or using state military force is never the optimum option, it often has very unpleasant unintended consequences, but life is not about optimum choices, but rather choosing between available options.

    As it happens, I disagree with ESR that military action is appropriate here, I think the disadvantages would greatly outweigh the advantages, however I do not see cognitive dissonance between his professed politics and his proposed action.

  119. @JessicaBoxer: You’re oversimplifying the argument and not being 100% intellectually honest here. First off, the government hasn’t actually monopolized the use of military power — it’s more of a virtual monopoly. There’s nothing to stop you from raising your own army and going off to fight the Iranians in your own name is there? Is it actually illegal to purchase a tank or an F-22? No, it’s just that no one is likely to sell you one and a single individual isn’t likely to be able to afford one.

    But the anarcho-capitalist can use his voice to call for the government to seek payment for the use of its military force.

  120. >There’s nothing to stop you from raising your own army and going off to fight the Iranians in your own name is there?

    There is, actually. It is illegal in the U.S. to raise troops aiming at the overthrow of foreign governments. Not that the mere illegality would stop me if I believed such a course were practical.

    JessicaBoxer has called it right. Only making speculative choices about what we would do in an ideal, anarcho-capitalist world is a form of retreat, of abdication. We can work towards the world being a different place, but to do that effectively we must face the reality of the way things work now. Sometimes the compromises that involves are painful.

  121. >There’s nothing to stop you from raising your own army.

    Actually there is, the thing that is stopping me is the government. For example, lets say Eric found 100,000 people who supported his view, and each donated $1,000 to the cause, so he raised $100million in capital. Now Eric called up the CEO of Blackwater, and a number of other such private Armies to hire them for this task. Without the slightest shadow of a doubt Eric would very soon be in jail (or perhaps dead), and possibly the donors would be too.

    If you disregard the full might of the US government and military, with the full support of the governments and military of most other nations — you have free reign to raise your own army.

    >Is it actually illegal to purchase a tank or an F-22?

    Is this a serious question? It is illegal to purchase an M-16, for goodness sake! Most friendly governments can’t even buy an F-22 or a tank!

  122. There is, actually. It is illegal in the U.S. to raise troops aiming at the overthrow of foreign governments. Not that the mere illegality would stop me if I believed such a course were practical.

    Can you provide a citation for that? I’m wondering if such laws might be contorted to apply to “cyber warfare”.

    I have to say that I think the rest of your post is spot-on.

  123. >Can you provide a citation for that?

    Alas, no. At one time I knew more details, but that was around 1985 and I’ve forgotten them. The law was relatively new then; I think it may only have been passed in ’83 or thenabouts.

    >I’m wondering if such laws might be contorted to apply to “cyber warfare”.

    Well, if they’re applicable, the FBI as of two days ago didn’t know it. That’s when I reported the death threat and briefed them about what NedaNet has been doing.

    >Is it actually illegal to purchase a tank or an F-22?

    Entertainingly enough, no. As a private citizen, you can buy a tank or an F-22 if you can find a seller. There is a confusing welter of laws governing whether it is illegal to operate either with live weapons.

  124. As a private citizen, you can buy a tank or an F-22 if you can find a seller. There is a confusing welter of laws governing whether it is illegal to operate either with live weapons.
    However, you cannot import one with operable weapons. Those in the small community of modern warbird (privately-owned military aircraft) enthusiasts who manage to purchase them outside the US must certify they have been demilitarized – their weapons rendered permanently inoperable – before they may be imported into the US.

  125. > >Is it actually illegal to purchase a tank or an F-22?

    > Entertainingly enough, no. As a private citizen, you can buy a tank or an F-22 if you can find a seller.

    Getting the NFA approval for the tank’s gun and ammunition will be problematic at best, same with the F-22′s missiles.

  126. Any news from Iran?

    How are they coping with Michael Jackson’s death?

  127. @JessicaBoxer

    Here in the US, it is definitely not illegal to purchase an M-16. Yet.

  128. >Here in the US, it is definitely not illegal to purchase an M-16. Yet.

    I’m not an expert, but my understanding is this: it is illegal to own an unregistered fully automatic weapon, and it is not possible to register any fully automatic weapon manufactured after 1986. So, what that means is that it might not be illegal to buy such a weapon, it is just illegal to own such a weapon (with the exception of weapons manufactured a quarter of a century ago.)

  129. Jessica, I believe that’s correct, but there are still many such weapons on the market, albeit trading for many times their original price.

  130. I’m not an expert, but my understanding is this: it is illegal to own an unregistered fully automatic weapon, and it is not possible to register any fully automatic weapon manufactured after 1986

    Jessica: Yes, I think you’re right on that point. However, as you point out

    [W]hat that means is that it might not be illegal to buy such a weapon, it is just illegal to own such a weapon (with the exception of weapons manufactured a quarter of a century ago.)

    Of course, an M-16 manufactured 25 years ago, if properly cared for, will still fire just as well today as it did 25 years ago.

    There is also nothing illegal about owning and registering a semi-automatic assault rifle like one of the civilian AK-47 variants. Many such weapons can be upgraded to become fully automatic.by changing out a few parts. I fully realize that conversion kits are illegal, but I’m not entirely sure about modifying the existing sear — apparently this can be done and you can’t tell from looking at the external features of the modified AK whether it is stock or not. Probably illegal, but check with your lawyer. In any respect, a cop would still generally need a warrant to seize a weapon so modified.

    One thing that is perfectly legal, though. is using techniques such as bump firing, which gives you the same effect as a fully automatic, but your finger is still actuating the trigger.

  131. > Many such weapons can be upgraded to become fully automatic.by changing out a few parts.

    Actually, no. The semi-auto AK-47s have a completely different receiver. So do the semi-auto AR-15s.

    They have to – machine gun receivers are treated as machine guns.

    > I fully realize that conversion kits are illegal

    A conversion kit that can be used with a semi-auto receiver to make a machine gun is regulated as a machine gun.

    > In any respect, a cop would still generally need a warrant to seize a weapon so modified.

    Given the other errors in that post, I wouldn’t place much confidence in that statement either.

    The legal definition of “machine gun” in the US is roughly “anything that can be used to make a machine gun in less time than it takes to make a machine gun from raw metal.”

  132. US machine gun law gives veto power to every jurisdiction involved. If you live in a town, the police chief gets to say no. The county sherriff gets to say no. The state police get to say no. Any of them can say no for any reason.

    It’s not like the federal process is lax either.

    Local veto is why legal machine guns are extremely rare in CA (outside of movie studios, and no, I don’t know why they want machine guns either). I understand that NY and MA are the same and that much of Texas and Nevada are more accomodating.

  133. “This time, we must finish it.”

    Yeah, just like you did in Vietnam. Afghanistan and Iraq.

  134. Regarding owning machine guns (and other Class 3 weapons), since I do have a FFL w/SOT:

    Machine guns manufactured and registered with the BATFE before May 1986 can be transferred to civilians, assuming the civilian lives in a state that allows them to own Class 3 weapons (machine guns, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, destructive devices, exotic weapons like pen guns, etc.). Notably, only machine guns were banned from new manufacture for civilians. I can, as a private citizen allowed to own guns (and Class 3 weapons), buy a brand new 40mm grenade launcher or suppressor. The devices are registered with the BATFE, and I pay a one-time $200 tax.

    The transfer process requires registering the transfer with the BATFE and getting some local law enforcement official to sign the paperwork. Note that any local law enforcement agency can sign – sheriff or police or even the criminal background check agency, so no agency actually has veto power itself. Some jurisdictions may have no cooperative agencies, but this seems to be rare or non-existent in states that allow Class 3 ownership. I have not heard of any such location yet.

    Since there is a diminishing supply of machine guns (but not suppressors, grenade launchers, or short-barreled guns), the market value of transferable (civilian-legal) automatic firearms grows quite rapidly; typically 5-15% per year for the past 15 years. This is the major barrier to most people purchasing a machine gun. If you have $15-20k and you really want a M-16, you can have legally have one in most states. Check the local laws (or call a Class 3 dealer) before trying to purchase a transferable gun, so you don’t waste your time and possibly a $200 transfer tax (for a denied transfer).

    Also note that you cannot legally convert ANY semi-auto weapon without using a registered sear or receiver, which must have been registered prior to the MG ban in ’86. Modifications of “sporting” semi-auto models generally requires significant parts or machining, otherwise the BATFE will not authorize the sale of the firearm to civilians – it will be considered a post-86 machine gun. Conversion sears and receivers are registered as machine guns, and treated as such. They also are extremely expensive. Modifying a new firearm without an appropriate manufacturing license (FFL 7 w/SOT) can result in 10 years in prison and $100k IIRC. Much better to purchase a legal, transferable sear at $15k.

    However, machine guns are really only necessary in massed armed combat between armies. Suppressive fire is perfectly feasible with semi-auto firearms. Other than the fun of full auto or a risky investment, there is no need for civilians to own machine guns; there is a need for civilians to own guns, particularly handguns, hunting rifles, semi-auto weapons with detachable magazines, and suppressors. Full auto is an awful lot of fun, if you’ve got the money for the weapon and the ammo; I recommend everyone that has an interest find a machine gun shoot and attend – you can generally rent a gun with ammo and experience full auto.

  135. Ok. Now I can say about my pain, I know about massacres and genocides performed by Saakashvili government of Georgia, I saw Nedas murdered, I saw “atrocities no human being should even have to imagine”. You fucking don’t know nothing about it, ’cause your government don’t want you to know about it. Russian troops entered Georgia to stop the massacre, and they did it.

    I repeat again. Blood of Osetinian Nedas killed by Saakashvili with support of America is still inside of me. Fuck you America, unless you acknowledge your other massacres I can’t support your movement, Eric.

  136. >Fuck you America, unless you acknowledge your other massacres I can’t support your movement, Eric.

    Right. So because I didn’t mobilize against a massacre for which I had no evidence, my attempts to help the Iranians are somehow illegitimate?

    Fuck yourself, comrade. I don’t even know that you’re telling the truth – and given the context and the gratuitous bash at where I live, I’m inclined to doubt it.

  137. Right. So because I didn’t mobilize against a massacre for which I had no evidence, my attempts to help the Iranians are somehow illegitimate?

    No. That’s just why I don’t participate in your “Holy War”. On contrary, I have some quite powerful “connections” and if I can tell them WHY we should be against Iran, I can make some very ….. …

  138. >No. That’s just why I don’t participate in your “Holy War”.

    An equally idiotic argument. The fact that we cannot stop every massacre does not erase our duty to do what we can. And my “we” here is deliberately ambiguous.

    Even being self-interestedly and politically selective about which massacres we stop is better than stopping none, by the starkest possible criterion: fewer people die.

  139. Other than the fun of full auto or a risky investment, there is no need for civilians to own machine guns

    unless you feel, as i do, that it may someday be in the best interests of the united states for a civilian militia to be on hand to help repel an invading foreign army.

    Full auto is an awful lot of fun, if you’ve got the money for the weapon and the ammo; I recommend everyone that has an interest find a machine gun shoot and attend – you can generally rent a gun with ammo and experience full auto.

    there’s also the gun store in vegas (www.thegunstorelasvegas.com). i fired the M16 carbine and the M249 — you get just a few minutes, but i found the experience well worth it.

    ESR, you’re right on point with your approach to dealing with iran and your reasoning — with the caveat that unless such a campaign is fought in the manner that kurt describes (far above in the comments), it will likely be doomed to failure. asking the U.S. military to take on roles for which the peace corps is better suited has been proven folly so many times that it boggles my mind that we as a nation ALLOW it, let alone attempt it.

  140. unless you feel, as i do, that it may someday be in the best interests of the united states for a civilian militia to be on hand to help repel an invading foreign army.

    Which ill-advised foreign army would this be? And why would the US military need or want civilian militias trained to ghod-knows-what standards wandering around getting in the way?

  141. Which ill-advised foreign army would this be?

    in the right geopolitical circumstances, i don’t think it’s terribly far-fetched to imagine china sending mexico a zimmerman telegram. it wouldn’t even necessarily need to ask mexico to do the dirty work.

    if, for instance, the U.S. was engaged in shooting wars in, say, the middle east and north korea at the same time, that would leave the home defenses spread pretty thin. a couple of chinese armored brigades with mechanized infantry and support elements could roll into, say, ensenada concealed aboard container ships and make it to san diego in fairly short order, and that’s a great staging point for taking out a good chunk of the military’s command and control assets on the west coast.
    at that point, would the california national guard have the assets in place to mount a coherent defense? wasn’t this one of the original reasons for the second amendment?

  142. Doesn’t really sound worth it to me for the foreseeable, in the face of the air supremacy assets the US has on the mainland. Sitting ducks, they’d be. Couple of decades and a few disruptive technologies down the road, who knows.

  143. the scenario assumes that U.S. air assets would be either tied up overseas or committed to long-range bombing missions in support of the faraway conflicts. also, a quick enough run into the city limits would create the threat of domestic civilian casualties from the carpet-bombing you’d need to get the fleas out of the rug, which would of course be politically dissuasive.

    but back to the point: isn’t this a case in which a well-armed civilian milita — maybe one armed with the occasional M240 or M60 — would be an asset to homeland defense?

  144. All of our moral and emotional outrage, while justified, has been pre-packaged. We are meant to hate the Iranian government. We are meant to empathize with the Iranian people. It’s just chess moves, and we are the pawns.

    The CIA has overthrown two Iraian regimes, on record, in the past. This is a historical fact. And they are in there right now to destabalize things and to provide the case for war. This is part of the political justification that is necessary before full-scale military operations can begin.

    Try this for a brief intro to the facts:

  145. but back to the point: isn’t this a case in which a well-armed civilian milita — maybe one armed with the occasional M240 or M60 — would be an asset to homeland defense?

    If they had any training to speak of, maybe. But isn’t this sort of what the National Guard is for?

  146. >If they had any training to speak of, maybe. But isn’t this sort of what the National Guard is for?

    The National Guard is the “organized” militia. Constitutional doctrine also recognizes an “unorganized militia”, which is the entire body of the people capable of bearing arms. Federal statute is slightly more restrictive; the (rather vague) obligations of the “unorganized militia” are legally binding on able-bodied males between the ages of 17 and 45.

    It would be entirely in accordance with the intent of the Constitution for the unorganized militia to be fully equipped with military-grade weapons, including crew-served automatic weapons.

  147. also, portions of the national guard may not be home when the doorbell rings.

    At certain times in 2005, members of the Guard and Reserve made up nearly half the troops fighting in Iraq. Overall, they were nearly 28 percent of all U.S. military forces deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan or in support of the operations, according to Defense Department data through the end of 2007. (MSNBC)

    i would expect the percentages to rise with actual combat taking place.

  148. clarifying: i would expect the number of national guard units deployed overseas to increase, not necessarily the percentage of deployed US forces made up of guard units.

  149. also, portions of the national guard may not be home when the doorbell rings.

    Yeah, the International Guard thing is a problem, though with Iraq winding down (hopefully) they may be more sensibly deployed in future. I’m still not seeing how a bunch of guys who may well be able to shoot to some degree but who (apart from the ex-military contingent) have no training in unit operations are going to be able to do much more than get in the way.

  150. >I’m still not seeing how a bunch of guys who may well be able to shoot to some degree but who (apart from the ex-military contingent) have no training in unit operations are going to be able to do much more than get in the way.

    Actually, well-armed civilian irregulars can be quite effective against regulars in the right circumstances – one of those being when they’re defending their homes.

    Much depends on culture and attitude; Americans have rather a strong advantage here over most other advanced nations, especially in the more Jacksonian parts of the country (e.g. pretty much anywhere outside the coastal metroplexes). U.S. military officers tend to be from Jacksonian country themselves and understand this, because the same qualities that make American irregulars a more than usually daunting prospect are what make it relatively easy to train Americans into effective soldiers.

    One of them is that many, many American civilians have firearms-handling skills that meet or exceed military standards. Another is that the U.S, though it doesn’t think of itself as a country with a warrior tradition, actually has a rather strong one – Americans know, in a gut-level way transmitted to them through popular culture, how successful fighters and successful militaries behave.

    I have observed the effects of this myself while engaging in tactical field exercises with civilian teenagers and young adults in the U.S.; they don’t actually have to be taught much about cover, initiative, unit cohesion and similar concepts before they start applying patterns they’ve soaked up from war movies, video games, etc.

    The U.S. is not unique in is regard; I’m fairly sure (based on a fact pattern too complex, alas, to encapsulate in a blog comment) that Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand have similar advantages and that Germany used to but mostly no longer does.

  151. i don’t think i’d be able to find the reference now, but i remember years ago seeing a summary of a U.S. army report outlining the prospects for a planned intervention in one of the brushfire wars along the adriatic in the ’90s. it anticipated having to grind through a fair amount of resistance due to the strong hunting culture in that nation and the associated prevalence of civilian gun ownership — which, it suggested, strongly counterindicated prospects for long-term success of such an operation.

    this is the U.S. army we’re talking about here, spooked by slavic woodsmen with what — pistols, shotguns and scoped bolt-action rifles?

    btw, i love my coastal metroplex dearly, but it’s annoying in these matters a good amount of the time.

  152. also, where in the general vicinity of a coastal metroplex can one engage in “tactical field exercises”?

  153. >this is the U.S. army we’re talking about here, spooked by slavic woodsmen with what — pistols, shotguns and scoped bolt-action rifles?

    Yes,. And well they should have been. If you knew the historical record on the performance of people like that on their home turf as as well as a War-College-trained general officer does, you would be too. Casualties tend to be high on both sides, and it’s a kind of warfare that line troops don’t wage well. Often the theoretically stronger side’s will to fight runs out before they can force a decisive engagement.

    >also, where in the general vicinity of a coastal metroplex can one engage in “tactical field exercises”?

    The experiences I was thinking of took place in rural Michigan.

  154. If you knew the historical record on the performance of people like that on their home turf as as well as a War-College-trained general officer does, you would be too. Casualties tend to be high on both sides, and it’s a kind of warfare that line troops don’t wage well. Often the theoretically stronger side’s will to fight runs out before they can force a decisive engagement.

    no argument here; i felt “spooked” was an appropriate response. my point is that if the world’s best-trained, best-equipped military force (as you’ve cited) anticipates such lightly armed opposition slowing down armor and mechanized infantry, then a semi-organized civilian militia carrying the kind of weaponry available in a larger, richer, more industrialized nation — including, just to reiterate the original point, the occasional crew-served belt-fed machine gun — ought to be able to put a serious dent in just about anyone willing to throw down that particular gauntlet.

  155. Ajay and Adrian both missed my point. Perhaps I tried to be too succinct? My point being that we can’t save any Iranians from oppression without a commitment of resources from them. They have to be willing to give up something to get their civil rights, otherwise they won’t value them. In Eric’s (and my) world, that would be arranged in advance by the Iranians paying to have their civil rights defended. Or it could be done “on spec” with the contract specifying ownership of a portion of the increased prosperity enjoyed by more-free Iranians.

  156. Consider this advice from the founders (see the second half):

    The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible….Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest.

    Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.

    [America] has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. …Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

  157. “The U.S. is not unique in is regard; I’m fairly sure (based on a fact pattern too complex, alas, to encapsulate in a blog comment) that Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand have similar advantages and that Germany used to but mostly no longer does.”

    Yes, Germany no longer does, because a little something called World War II happened.

  158. >Yes, Germany no longer does, because a little something called World War II happened.

    It doesn’t appear to me that WWII was the major factor. If what I’ve heard from U.S. military people is accurate, the quality of German troops was still pretty good when NATO was formed and remained so as late as the mid-1970s.

  159. “…The quality of German troops was still pretty good when NATO was formed and remained so as late as the mid-1970s.”

    A lot of mid-tier people in West Germany were left-overs from the previous government.

  160. Ajay and Adrian both missed my point.

    I dunno, sounds fair enough to me, being the world’s policeman on an unpaid basis is a recipe for bad things, and the circumstances of Desert Storm look unlikely to recur. The Japanese *definitely* have no plans to be ponying up, that’s for sure.

    In Eric’s (and my) world, that would be arranged in advance by the Iranians paying to have their civil rights defended. Or it could be done “on spec” with the contract specifying ownership of a portion of the increased prosperity enjoyed by more-free Iranians.

    No-win-no fee? Interesting idea. I take it this would require the meeting of some criteria regarding freeeedom by the putative benefactees, as opposed to random whoring of the US military out to the highest bidder. A completely liquid market in violence *might* work, I suppose, though I think I’d want to witness its evolution from a considerable distance.

  161. I will cheer on any American who chooses to go to Iran and help them overthrow their dictatorship, but it would be a tragic mistake for the US government to do it. The model to follow here is the Flying Tigers, or the American volunteers who went and joined the RAF before the Pearl Harbor attack.

  162. The problem is America only goes to war where it’s profitable for them. Iraqi oil or Afghan heroin for example.

  163. The only way to stop it is to (as at least one person mentioned) , SELECTIVELY choose targets.
    The easiest and most effective is to kill the top leader, and then , if the politicians have the BALLS, tell the enemy what you have done and WHY, tell them to pick another leader, and to pick carefully. If we don’t like him – assasinate him, and tell them to try again. In that way you exert the ultimate pressure on those who want power: Anyone who wants power risks immediate death if we don’t like him.
    The only problems with this idea are the means to assasinate, and our politicians willingness to declare such a policy, and of course, the judgment of those who take power,
    It avoids the horrors of war. Why should anyone fear such a policy?
    Are we really SCARED to have our top leaders assasinated as well? WHY!?
    THEY want ultimate power. THEY want to make choices that affect the lives of millions of others.
    THEY want to take huge risks for everyone else- let them risk as well.

  164. Is this why Libertarian-thinking people want Big Government out of our lives? So they have the free time to interfere in the lives of people in other countries? Won’t the Iranian people create demand for a solution from the free market?

    I jest, of course. Partly, in any case.

    Nice idea on the offer of citizenship. I think _that_ is excellent.

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