OKAY, now, in case you're wondering what I was doing at The Huffington Post, I've been trying to stay current on this ShamBoozle guy, or whatever it is, the one who punched a hooker, and I knew that the HuffPo, as it's known to aficionados, was the best place to go. 'Cause there's something fishy there; you don't get a real sense of the guy's physicality on teevee, but my guess is that in a fight a hooker in any weight class would have cleaned his clock, and then given him a what-for once he was down, not that little ketchup-packet-exploded-in-my-face muss job. Maybe she was just unfamiliar with his work. Although I can't imagine the ShamBoozle guy not wearin' that on his sleeve, particularly after a couple of shooters. In fact, if he doesn't travel with a dozen pre-autographed head shots I'm a poor judge of televised character.
Oh, and the latest Joachin Phoenix news, of course. He's morphed into Billy Bob Thornton, who apparently was rude to a disc jockey or something. Imagine! This is the sort of thing that gets you a panel job on ABC's This Week with The Biased Liberal Media, Brought To You By Petroleum.
Turns out they cover politics over there, too. By giving column inches to neocon would-be insiders who already have their own magazines to blather in, thank you very much:
Even as it lies about its closeness to acquiring nuclear missiles, it continues to menace the political order throughout the Middle East, pressing on with rocketry and rearming Hamas and Hezbollah. And that mischief is nothing to what it will do if it is allowed to become a nuclear power.
Y'know, I think this is exactly what has been missing from our debate over "the Middle East": someone screaming Apocalyptic nonsense so unfounded it would give Richard Perle pause. Okay, two seconds pause.
And look, I bow to no one when it comes to respecting the political opinions of someone who made billions in real estate, and who is personally responsible for taking The Atlantic Monthly, the highly respected literary, cultural, and political institution, giving it a social disease, then passing it along to The Gutter Press at real-estate-sharpie prices. I understand he's worked wonders at US News as well, which has now reestablished itself as the newsweekly favored by high school debate teams. (I was not a high school debater. A girl in my class was, though, and she looked like Patty Boyd, except with prodigiously precocious mams. So I helped with her filing system.)
Anyway, if it wouldn't inject too much reality into the thing, would it be possible to start saying "Israel" instead of "the Middle East" when we mean "Israel" and not "the Middle East"? I mean, I know you don't get called on this sort of thing in public much, Mort, but it really is transparently obvious, just like we all saw in that latest Lebanese fracas which side y'all's cosmic jokester God gave the biggest battalions. You wanna defend every hardliner position of the last sixty years from 6000 miles away, fine. But it's sixty years. Can we at least stop pretending that this has not been the dominant approach all that time, with the result that you are right where you are today, hoping if you scream loudly enough the fear-mongering will convince America to fund the next sixty?
And I believe it was Albert Einstein, or else Albert Brooks, who noted that the definition of insanity is imagining you'll get a different result by doing the same thing over and over again, except with more megatonnage.
Nuclear Iran will be a threat to US national security, worldwide energy security, the efficacy of multilateralism and the Non-Proliferation (NPT) Treaty.
Three questions, Mort. One: could you tell us, in rough terms, at what level "Nuclear Iran" becomes a threat to the US? When it has ICBMs? When it has enough fissionable material? How does that work? It's like saying a guy holding a stick will become a threat to the two guys with rifles trained on him if he's ever allowed to start sharpening it. Two: how does Nuclear Iran threaten worldwide energy security in a way Reality Iran, which has the third largest oil reserves in the world, the second most powerful military in an area which holds 56% of known reserves, and is now, thanks to your neocon buddies, and their previous insistence on the Henny Penny Theory of Nuclear Disarmament, let's say highly influencial with the ruling Shi'a majority in Iraq, which has the world's fourth largest reserves, does not? Three: did you exercise all due caution and shave yourself before you wrote "threatens the Non-Proliferation Treaty?" Personally, I'd a' been laughing so hard I wouldn't have touched any sharp objects for a week.
Having defied the world so brazenly, it might become overconfident enough to believe its conventional or proxy forces could operate without fear of serious reprisals from the US, Israel, or any other power.
Ditto for "brazenly defying the world" but sure; it might just slip the mind of the Iranians what Great Satan & Son really think of 'em, and what either one would do if the lights happen to go out for a minute.
Fundamentally, a nuclear Iran represents a unique threat. The fear of mutually assured destruction has long restrained other nuclear powers. There is a real risk that Iran is not rational, that driven by its mad hatreds it will act in ways that are irrational, even self-destructive.
Mort, Mort, Mort. You went to Hahvahd, right? You "edit" a "major" national magazine, correct? (Hey, what's up with Joachin Pheonix? Do you know?) You've heard of research, right? Fact-checking? And you just choose to ignore them? I'm just trying to survey the property here.
Mutually-assured destruction is a 70s buzzword, Mort. It may date to the 60s; we spent so much effort exaggerating the Soviet threat in those days it's impossible to say when that theoretical construct actually became a reality, if ever. But MAD, as the headline writers called it, doesn't apply to other than the late stages of the Cold War, and perhaps to India/Pakistan. Certainly not to the Middle East (or are we pretending that Israel doesn't have a couple hundred little hummers stashed away?). Retaliation might, but nothing's changed there, except that today, Israel or the United States might well become overconfident enough to imagine they could respond to an Iranian nuclear peashooter by irradiating everything between the Caspian and Arabian seas without fear of Russian or Chinese response. I like to think we've at least reduced that possibility in the US recently, but then I'm an incurable optimist.
No fifth-rate power can embark upon a nuclear weapons program in the early 21st century and reach the level of global nuclear threat. It's too big an undertaking, and it's too closely watched by the real global nuclear powers who, unlike yourself with the State of Israel, actually have their own meat on the line (okay, sorry. Cheap shot. They also serve who stay in the New World, buying Low and selling High and cheating widows and orphans). This is why the North Korean business is, while not exactly risible, certainly a transparent con-job; the Chinese, at whose sufferance Kim gets to play International Man of Crazee, would shut the thing down themselves the minute it rose to the level of Potentially Becoming a Minor Threat. We know this. The Chinese know we know this. Even Kim knows it, which is why he's allowed to play that Michael Dunn character from the old Wild Wild West. Iran's never going to become a match for Israel's nuclear stockpile, let alone the United States' (okay, let's rephrase that; never say never. The circumstances required for Iran to be able to develop a full-fledged, even-Israeli-sized nuclear arsenal, unimpeded, are so dire that Iranian nukes would be a minor worry).
We must press harder to concert four measures:
1. an arms' embargo; 2, a ban on exports to Iran of gas and other refined products to cripple their transport; 3, a global boycott of the entire banking system of Iran, instead of helping them as European banks are; and 4, a prohibition on Western countries supplying spare parts to the oil industry.
Yes', by all means', let's' have 1, an arms' embargo; 2/a really good reason to alienate the Iranian people that has every possible chance of a devastating effectiveness unless, say, some other country develops the ability to refine petroleum, or somebody coughs or something^3*the world get in line behind our proven global economic leadership ø and 4# a good excuse for oil prices to zoom above last summer's levels, now that we've got our economy straightened out an' all.
And really, aside from the fact that the underlying rationale is bogus, that none of these suggestions would work, even if they could be implemented, which they couldn't unless the threat was real, and the fact that the biggest danger we face in the world today, and into the future, is the result of our responding over the past sixty years to each and every threat, most of them imaginary or delusional, by spending ever greater amounts of treasure and reputation appeasing the most insane among us. Thanks for contributing, Mort.