Foreign Policy

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An article on Iranian conflict: The Iranian people are not our enemy. Mixed good and bad analysis.

(1) The Iranian people are not our enemy=good

(2) The U.S. should strive for a strong Iranian middle class=dumb.

Of course, but we can't control other countries economies. Their policies guide that. They have the same problems we do: a strong centralized economically leftist government that thinks it knows more than the people. Their policies are not our problem. Focus on the things you can change.

(3) The U.S. has unrealistic and excessive demands = moronic.

If you're going to hold that position, you have to explain what/why/where. That they stop their Nuclear program isn't unrealistic or excessive. It's just something I don't think Iranian leadership will capitulate to. Nor do we have the ability to force with military or economic sanctions. But the alternative is going to be a nuclear arms race in the middle east, with someone there far more likely to use them than in the western world. (And Russia/U.S. was way too close for comfort as it was). So our demands that they stop are less unrealistic and excessive than theirs that they do not have to, and get to cheat. But both are equally unlikely to happen.

(4) The reason for this is that we don't communicate = bullshit.

We do communicate, we just use proxies and more indirect communications. Put two narcissistic sociopaths (with opposing goals) in the same room, and if the fight/disagree it will NOT be for a lack of communications. It'll be because they fundamentally disagree over something. There are a few cases where communications would help... there are many more where communications just make things worse. America and Iran both have outsized egos -- but different objectives. Do you really want to put two cats in a bag and start shaking it?

(5) the U.S. has repeatedly shown contempt for the Iranian people = daft.

The American and Iranian governments don't like each other's agendas. The people are more complex. There are ignorant haters on both sides -- but I don't think they're the majority. If there's attacks the jingoists on both sides saber rattle. But that's not contempt as much as it is irrelevant.

The Iranian people are not rising up to replace their government any time soon. And cheering on them or the people desire for more freedom is about as useful as free America doing it for California: which is completely useless. So you can do it (and probably should), because it's the right thing to wish for. But it's about as effective as farting in a hurricane as a protest against global warming. California's fascist government has no interest in the opinions of people that don't elect them. Why should Iran's leaders care any more about people with less direct influence over them?

(6) The Nuclear deal was popular in Iran? So what? That doesn't make it a good deal for the U.S. or world. It wasn't even popular enough among the Democrats to get their universal support, let alone enough across parties to be ratified. So the idea that because it's popular with Iranian people that we should support it, is inane. You can like/dislike it (I think it was idiotically written by an ineffectual administration), but the reality is Irans popular opinion on it should have zero impact on the U.S. And this article argues the opposite.

(7) "The Iranian people are not and never have been our enemy"... this is another dumb point. It's true. But that doesn't change their government's policies. When they support terrorism in the middle east, they are not our friends either. Just like the inverse. The American people are not Iran's enemies -- but if our government does things that hurt them, they still won't care and will react against the American government (and people). It's how the world works.

This is really all about a couple leftist authors claiming that since sanctions don't work (and strikes won't stop them), we should take both off the table.

Guess what? Laws don't work. People still break them. Does that mean because you can't catch all rapists and murderers that you shouldn't try to stop any of them? It's a dumb argument. Sanctions are bullshit. They don't work. They hurt the people and not the government. But the alternatives are war (which hurt more people), or doing nothing (which hurts even more people). Sometimes in foreign policy and life, all paths suck.

Iran is going to cheat and get Nuclear weapons and destabilize the middle east. We can't stop it. We can do nothing and let it happen quicker (which makes the situation worse as fewer have time to adapt to new realities). We can do something dramatic like strikes to try to set them back (which will agitate the situation, polarize the people against us more, strengthen their government, and probably not work -- as now they'll be able to divert more resources to doing it). Or we can walk the line, stall, do some sanctions that slow them slightly, and puts pressure on them -- just not enough pressure to stop them. And you're going to end up with a Nuclear Iran that hates us more than if we did nothing, but less than if really attacked them. (But maybe there will be enough time that Saudi Arabi, and other neighbors will be more prepared for the new reality). Pick one of those.

I don't have to like any of them. But I like idiots that pretend that they know the only path here, even less. Putting down our arms will not get a sociopath to do the same. They'll take the cheap shot. But punching them won't change them either. In the end, I don't know the right solutions -- but I do recognize dumb arguments.

If you want to argue that the U.S. should become Switzerland and just sell popcorn to watch a gang rape while agreeing to do nothing but be an audience to whatever happens? That's fine. There's an argument to be made for "not my circus, not my monkeys". Just be honest about it. It'll be a fucking shit show, and you have to live with the consequences of watching it happen. I lean towards picking our battles better and intervening a lot less -- because the alternative is us usually making it worse because of shifting leadership, swinging policies, incomplete knowledge and the ineptitude of government. But I know it's impractical because there's too much Dunning-Kruger out there, and people that think they know how to fix other people's problems... and so intervention is as inevitable as fucking it up. But that doesn't mean that sitting it out is the moral high ground, any more than going cowboy, or trying to diplomat your way out of war. Sometimes all paths suck... and there's no moral high ground in the salt flats.

You broke it, you bought it
"You broke it, you bought it" is a bullshit (a fallacy) from the start. It makes society worse, and guarantees failure for both sides (outsiders and insiders).


Unintended Consequences
Every action causes a reaction. Some reactions are pleasant surprises, many are negatives, some are counter productive (perverse) and make the problem worse. Since consequences matter more than intentions, we have a social obligation to plan for them (and avoid them). The phrase "unintended consequences" is used as either a wry warning against the hubristic belief that humans can control the world around them, or more often against a really bad implementation of not-so-smart ideas or implementations. Those that deny unintended consequences are denying science (reality).



Pacifism: when is fighting is better than the alternative? These are my thoughts. To me, the aggressor is not the one that throws the first punch, but the one who insists on fighting -- and it is not the person who won't fight because they can't win, but is the person who tries to avoid fights and exhausts all alternatives despite knowing that they would probably win. more...


📚 References