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Might Romney's debate actually encourage Iran to get nukes?

Discussion in 'Alley of Lingering Sighs' started by SlickRCBD, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. SlickRCBD Gems: 28/31
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    I'm wondering if I'm the only one who was thinking that Mitt Romney's comments on Pakistan in the debate last night might actually encourage Iran to try to develop nuclear weapons.

    He and Obama commented on slapping Iran with sanctions to discourage them from developing nuclear weapons. Then, a little later, Romney was talking about our policy towards Pakistan, and he was saying something to the effect of "We can't just divorce ourselves from them. We can't just cut off aid like that even though they aren't acting like much of an ally lately because they have over a hundred nukes".

    I was thinking the way he kept stressing that we needed to work with Pakistan rather than cut them off, and that we needed to help their economy instead of hurting it, if somebody from the Iranian government heard that, they might conclude the only reason he's taking that position is because of the nukes. They might take a look at how their economy is being crippled right now, and think "I've got to get some nukes of my own ASAP. Then they wouldn't dare do this to us".

    I apologize that I'm not that good at expressing political views without spending hours polishing the paper that I'm not prepared to do since I'm no longer in college, and I'm sure you can see why the best grade I ever got in an English composition class was B-, but I'm sure you can get the gist of what I'm trying to say and ask.

    If it helps, a transcript of the debate is here:http://www.npr.org/2012/10/22/163436694/transcript-3rd-obama-romney-presidential-debate
    There are two places where they talk about Pakistan, in the second part they mention the aid, the first part talks about divorcing the USA form Pakistan.
     
  2. The Shaman Gems: 28/31
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    I'd say that Iran definitely didn't need Romney's speech for any such considerations; it is just the latest illustration on the topic. There is a line of thought that having a nuclear weapon is much better in terms of deterrence than for actual offense - what neither Obama nor Romney wants to say is that any attempt to launch a nuclear weapon at Israel will assuredly be met with a counter-strike by their own nukes. For all the talk about the radicalism of Iran's leadership - talking is one thing, doing something that would result in the destruction of their own capital is quite another. However, by the same measure no one wants to push a nuclear state too far. This is evident not only in how Pakistan is treated, but also why North Korea gets away with so much. Compare its treatment with Iran's, and you may get an idea why Iran may think a nuclear weapon might improve its position. They don't need to attack anyone - in fact, it's much better for them not to - but attacking them becomes incredibly dangerous. M.A.D. in the M.E.

    That does not necessarily mean that Iran's government does seek a nuke, mind you - being a nuclear state comes with its own risks, and getting there is even harder. It is possible that they are bluffing, just as how Saddam was bluffing (I believe) about possibly having WMD - which, some authors say, was in order to discourage Iran from trying to oust him by proxies or by force. It may be that Iran's position was either to project strength (in a way) to get more favorable dealings. It may be for the opposite reason - in order to provoke a limited attack, such as an Israeli or US air strike. I consider the latter quite likely, actually.

    Why would it do that? Politics. Iran is hurting economically, even though oil prices are increasing; thus, the current government is unpopular and faces trouble in the next elections (especially as there is already some resentment over the last ones). However, an external attack may allow them to claim to be protecting the homeland against evil foreign interests - and let's face it, neither Israel nor the US are very popular in that part of the world. This isn't quite as difficult, especially as most Iranians support a peaceful nuclear program - and so far they have not seen any conclusive proof that theirs is not such. Let us not forget that 2013 is an election year in Iran, and the current government has not done all that well by its people for the last for years. Further, it would allow them to play at PR aimed at the Arab states, showing themselves the victims of aggression. Most of the Middle East is not that fond of Iran, especially after its influence grew in Iraq (which is now dominated by its Shia majority), and Iran's support for Assad did not win it any new friends. If Iran is attacked, it can try to deflect that displeasure at Israel - or the West. The governments of those states may not believe it, but many of the people will - and even a dictatorial government must be careful in acting against its people's wishes. So Iran can win a lot. What does it lose? Some lives, some equipment, and a setback (but far from a conclusive one) in its project, however far it wants to take it.
     
  3. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    Like The Shaman wrote, just look at North Korea and what kind of respect they command from the US, despite being a regime that's basically a bad joke - but they're armed to the teeth and packing nukes. Nobody in Iran is stupid enough not to know very well that having your own nukes is the only sure-fire way to instill a considerable dose of respect and fear even into a superpower like the US (and Israel, by extension). You can be sure that American politicians would be infinitely more careful about casually talking or joking about invading Iran like they've been doing for years if Iran already had nukes.

    So if Iran actually does get them, the fault IMO lies at least as much with the US politicians as it does with Iran's own. Put yourselves in their shoes - if America didn't have nukes and Russia was constantly idly chattering about invading it and making more or less veiled threats against the US sovereignty, wouldn't your first priority also be to get nukes of your own? Obviously a rhetorical question considering the stockpiles of nukes that the US has...
     
  4. The Shaman Gems: 28/31
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    IMO the way Iran was handled was probably the biggest foreign policy failure of the Bush administration. In the early 2000's the US had a unique opportunity to get somewhere with Iran: the president was a moderate (by their standards), 9/11 had initially caused a large support for the US, and its enemies were also enemies of Iran - both the Taliban and Saddam's Iraq. In fact, there are mentions that there was some low-key cooperation between the two countries in Afghanistan. All the components for a thaw were there, and it would have benefited both countries - and served US political interests admirably, as far as I can tell.

    Yet for some reason, we got Iran as part of the "Axis of Evil" alongside the soon-to-be-attacked Iraq. Whose interests did that talking point serve? As far as we know, Iran's leadership was (unpleasantly surprised) and made overtures to provide support in exchange for a tone change. They got nowhere, there was quite a bit of commentary that an attack on Iran was being planned, the moderate faction in Iran was weakened, and in 2005, Ahmadinejad came to power. From then things have, to put it mildly, not gone well. Actually, I'd say there is a strong possibility that the same rhetoric might have pushed the North Koreans to pursue their nuclear program all the more.

    So yes, if the Iranians listen to US political discussions, they can see a very good reason for them to get some deterrent measures - but it definitely did not start with Mitt Romney. Sadly, politicians who let their mouths write checks the rest of them (and the country) can't cash are not just tolerated - they get elected.
     
  5. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    I agree with the others here - Iran has been working on a nuclear program for years. They will acquire nucelar weapons as soon as they acquire all the necessary technology needed to construct them. It doesn't matter what Romney said, or who the President of the US (or Israel for that matter) is. Acquiring nuclear weaponry is, and has been, their top military priority for the last decade.
     
  6. dogsoldier Gems: 7/31
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    All states who have nuclear weapons pursued them because they were believed to be critical to their security. A U.S. presidential candidate's words mean nothing to the calculations of Iran's elites vis-a-vis state security.

    States do deal with other states differently when they have nuclear weapons. Despite the instability between Pakistan and India, for instance, there is a good argument to be made that Pakistan's nukes have prevented India from invading it. Iran is perfectly rational for wanting to have nukes because of the benefits it will bring their regime.

    They have not been convinced that their current path to achieve nuclear weapons is irrational; that is, they have been pre-emptively struck several times over this program (for what else is that when Iranian nuclear scientists die in car bombings?), near-crippling sanctions have been enacted (in coordination with the efforts of other oil-producing states to prepare to increase their oil production), rhetoric has increased on all sides over the last 2 years, and yet they appear to be undetered on this path.
     
  7. Blades of Vanatar

    Blades of Vanatar Vanatar will rise again Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    So far, Iran is staying the path, but how long can they sustain? Did they not approach the White House this week about starting talks? Crippling any State's economy will be impactful. All civilizations in today's world need to be able to meet basic standards of life. If a government cannot provide that, civil unrest always follows. Time will tell.
     
  8. Rawgrim Gems: 21/31
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    I don`t really see how Iran is a possible threat to the US at all. What are they going to do? Move a fleet over to the US and attack? Going past the UN in the process? Iran is a barking dog. Nothing more. Usually they bark when pushed.

    As for Romney, he pretty much made it clear that if he gets elected, he will start a war vs Iran. Simple as that. Vote for that nutcase and you vote for war.
     
  9. Darion

    Darion Resident Dissident Veteran BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    Frankly, when listening to the pro war rhetorics, one can understand why some people would want WMD in their arsenal.
    Not that I approve of WMD.
     
  10. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    The US considers Iran a threat to itself because it is a threat to Israel. Any enemy of Israel is a de facto enemy of the US. I don't know if there was ever a US president who didn't consider it imperative to aid and support Israel - certainly not in the last few decades AFAIK.
     
  11. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    While I agree with the overall point you're making, I seriously doubt a couple of Iranian nuclear scientists being killed in a car bombing is going to accompish much - at best it would be an extremely inefficient means of stalling the nuclear program. It's not like in the movies where you have one evil scientist creating a nuclear weapon. Chances are, there are dozens of Iranian scientists working on the program. Not only that, it's not like there is a shortage of people who know how to make a nuclear weapon. The reason Iran doesn't have a nuke isn't because they don't know how to make one, it's because they lack the materials needed to create one.

    Only until there he sees there is public outcry against a war with Iran. He's a chameleon. This guy can flip flop and change directions like few I've seen.

    Bingo. That's the bottom line. Iran isn't a direct threat to the US, but they are to Israel.
     
  12. Darion

    Darion Resident Dissident Veteran BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    Another question from the resident clueless:

    Why is Israel of such importance?
    Or better, why is Israel of such an importance to the US of A?
     
  13. The Shaman Gems: 28/31
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    I think it wasn't meant to halt Iran's program; I'd say it had two purposes: part of a wider campaign to delay the process, and a terror measure designed to intimidate the people working on the process. When several major scientists on a project die in suspicious circumstances, you can expect their coworkers to be affected by that - for better or worse.

    To be honest, I am not 101% sure Iran's end goal is a nuclear weapon, but they seem to want to at least have the possibility of one. Whether they'd be willing to make a deal - and how good it would be - depends on who's in charge and what they are offered. IIRC Khatami offered a bargain in the early 2000s, so it is not impossible. Remember, 2013 is an election year in Tehran - and I'm not sure Ahmadinejad is even able to run for a third term.

    @ Darion - apart from the somewhat cynical argument that the Israeli lobby in the US is quite powerful and pampered and no major politician dares go against it, I'd say the US foreign policy strategy in the Middle East has become very entangled with Israel and is nearly impossible to change. I think it started during the Cold war, when the US supported Israel and the USSR some of the Arab states as a part of their global influence struggle. As the two blocs fought, this situation became more and more entrenched. It got to the point where the US relies a lot on Israel in the region and Tel Aviv is considered its natural ally and counterweight against anti-American sentiments in the region. Thatis somewhat ironic, since a lot of the anti-American sentiments are due to the US support for Israel in the first place... but that's another story. Effectively, it was a spiraling situation - the more the US relies on Israel and supports it (and the more Israel ****** off its neighbors), the stronger anti-US feelings become, and the more the US has to rely on Israel. Even countries that went to the US bloc, such as Egypt, are not considered nearly as reliable and their population nearly as friendly, so Israel's position as the linchpin of the US foreign policy in the region is undiminished.

    Remember that incident with the flotilla that sailed to Gaza a few years ago, and was boarded by Israeli forces in international waters? Turkey made a big fuss about it, but the US sided with Israel in the UN and called for an internal investigation, effectively kicking the matter under the carpet. The best part is that Turkey, as a NATO country, is a US ally and a very valuable one at that... and not only did the US support Israel in that situation, but it didn't even seem to be an issue.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2012
  14. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

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    Other than because the US is the primary nation responsible for the existence of Israel? Israel came into existence following WWII. And if not for the US, it wouldn't be there. I'd say when you go so far as to establish a new nation, especially in a region of the world where any religion other than Islam isn't well received, that you have to expect you'll be forever bound to that nation.
     
  15. dogsoldier Gems: 7/31
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    Iran probably has hundreds affiliated in some significant way with the program.

    Iran is ignoring the message, however. Some state, which I assume is Israel, is serious about Iran not getting the bomb. I doubt very much, unless that state used an invasion, heavy bombing, or nuclear strike, that other states, regionally or internationally, would condemn that state for striking and destroying Iran's program. Apparently they don't want to destroy the program yet. But they are telling the Iranians they will. Which the Iranians don't care about.

    ---------- Added 0 hours, 13 minutes and 41 seconds later... ----------

    England is more responsible for the creation of Israel than the U.S. U.S. elites, including Eisenhower and Truman, were not excited about the prospect of an Israeli state in the Middle East at the end of WW2.

    Another reason that Israel is important to the U.S. is the matter of U.S. aid to the state of Israel. The U.S. provides Israel significant military aid, something like $3 billion a year if I remember correctly, 75% of which must, by terms of the agreement, be spent in dollars buying high-tech arms from U.S. firms. This essentially serves as a subsidy to the U.S. industrial and weapons manufacturing market. A profitable business filled with a constituency to which U.S Senators and Representatives answer.
     
  16. Rawgrim Gems: 21/31
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    Jews. Living in the US, sponsoring election campaigns and whatsnot. Thats the main reason. Second reason is biblethumpers who belives israelites are God\ s people. Ergo they are beyond any for of criticism for a ton of religios voters.
     
  17. SlickRCBD Gems: 28/31
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    Would Israel be such a sore spots with the surrounding nations if they were to make Jerusalem a strictly neutral, independent city in a combination similar to Switzerland's neutral status and the way the Vatican City is an independent state from Italy?

    It's something I've wondered about off and on ever since I read Tom Clancy's The Sum of all Fears back in 6th grade.

    I was thinking if they didn't have the excuse of the sacred city of Jerusalem being run by infidels, they might be able to view Israel as a dumping ground for those unwanted Jews where the Jews can be somewhere else and neither side has to bother the other.

    Then again, I also realize that some people can't just leave others alone but have to be hurting somebody.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2012
  18. dogsoldier Gems: 7/31
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    A, the Israelis would never do that to Jerusalem.
    B, even if they did, it wouldn't change everything else. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in the camps, or second/third generation refugees in neighboring states? Jerusalem doesn't make up for all that.
    "Infidels" is a loaded word. Most Muslims respect "people of the book" (i.e., Jews and Christians). Most Muslims recognize Jerusalem is critical to both the Jewish and Christian faiths, as well, so most reasonable Muslims feel they cannot claim some sort of exclusive rights to Jerusalem.

    The state of Israel and their policies is the problem to most Islamists in the Middle East. Jerusalem is tangentially related to that grand problem.
     
  19. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    If anything, I'd guess the $3B is a low-ball estimate. I don't have a number to pull out for you, but just looking at the type of equipment they have (most of which is a modified version of US equipment), it's got to be a huge number. I mean, they essentially have M1A1/2 Abrams tanks, which is still the main tank the US uses. The only real modifications made to the tanks is an improved air intake filter to be able to be used in a desert environment. (Ironically, the Israeli equipment was better prepared for the Iraq invasion than was the US.) Granted, the M1A1/2 technology must be around 20 years old at this point, so it's not exactly "cutting edge" or anything, and it's not like we haven't sold these tanks to other nations as well, but I imagine that each one has to cost a pretty penny.

    And I completely agree that while Jerusalem is a holy city for all three Abrahamic religions, there's no way it's being turned into a neutral site.
     
  20. dogsoldier Gems: 7/31
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    You might be right. $3 billion is what is publically available regarding military aid, but Israel recieves significant aid and package deals besides that. I've seen it estimated around 5 or 6 billion a year, in total.

    Israel has been recieving military aid since the '60s (that we know of, when the Johnson administration was caught selling weapons to the Israelis), and since the '80s at least, it's been in the number of billions of dollars per year. So that's a lot of money over the decades. Remember, they spend a lot of their own money on defense (over 7% of their GDP, which is itself 52nd in the world, which makes them something like #6 in the world in defense spending), and procurement/development, as well. The expensive part is not in purchasing an Abrams tank--it's in purchasing the maintenance and replacement parts over the decades they've had it to keep it going. I'm sure that at least equals the cost and probably multiplies it several times over.

    I think most of the American people support US. support to Israel for a variety of reasons, or at least care so little no one says anything about it. And our politicians are in the pocket of AIPAC and they percieve any discussion of stopping U.S. support to Israel as a "career-killer" (AIPAC has killed the careers of more than one politician). And the plan we have in place with Israel, which is basically a multi-billion subsidy to our own arms industry every year, is also important to lawmakers from places like California, Washington, Virginia, and Florida.
    But...it just strikes me as odd, in this environment of fiscal "responsibility," that no one really wants to talk about the billions of dollars, year after year, the U.S. gov't keeps giving to what is by far the richest and most developed country (Israeli per capita GDP is over $32,000 and their economy is growing almost 5% a year) in the Middle East. Sure, it's a drop in the bucket regarding our spending overall, but still, that's $30 billion over 10 years that could have shifted to, say, infrastructure repair or public education reform.
     
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