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April 25, 2006

Running out of time with Iran
Posted by Derek Chollet

How far will United States go to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons?  In Washington and key capitals around the world, politicians and policymakers are focusing closely on this difficult question.  The recent frenzy of press reports about Bush Administration’s secret planning for a military attack on Iran lead many to fear that we have entered the grim and sobering endgame. 

Reaching this point was not necessarily inevitable.  For most of the 34 months since arms inspectors blew the whistle on Iran, exposing its efforts to develop nuclear technology secretly in violation of its international commitments, Washington’s approach has been shockingly bumbled and confused.  Only recently has the Bush Administration pursued the kind of strong and serious diplomatic approach the threat required months ago, working with key European allies to pressure Iran within the United Nations Security Council.

But in Tehran, the hard-line mullahs and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad show little sign that they are interested in bargaining for anything less than an independent nuclear capability.  They are on a collision course with the rest of the world – and rather than sensing trouble, they seem to relish the situation.

As welcome as the current diplomatic effort in the UN Security Council might be, few are confident that it will actually work.  Neither our carrots nor sticks are very impressive.  The U.S. and Europeans must remain unified in their threat to impose the punishments like economic and political sanctions, but there’s a real question whether Russia and China will ever go along with a tough policy.  And even if the UN Security Council sends a clear, unified message – like it did to Saddam Hussein before the 1991 Gulf War – there’s a real possibility that Iran will not back down.

That’s why the military options are being discussed in Washington.  While a U.S. military campaign remains highly unlikely, the fact it is even being considered is a reflection of how desperate – and dangerous -- this crisis has become.

There is still room for creative diplomacy to head off this showdown.  Along with their efforts in the UN Security Council, the U.S. and Europeans should be exploring ways to bring greater regional pressure on Tehran, perhaps through a new regional security organization.  They could also look for ways to envelop Iran in a new regime to end the spread of nuclear technology, such as a global agreement to end the production of the fissile materials needed to produce nuclear weapons. 

But even if successful in bringing about a more moderate Iranian stance – and through democratic reforms, even a change in the regime -- there is the problem of time. We face a cold reality: Better policies perfectly executed might not work before Iran has developed nuclear weapons.  So while we must hold the line that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, the limited options before us require clear-headed thinking about living in a world with a nuclear Iran.  It’s not just prevention we have to worry about; it’s containment and deterrence.

A nuclear Iran would fundamentally alter the strategic chessboard in the Middle East, and spark a regional Cold War.  The West would have to make clear the consequences of any use of Iran’s weapons, and should explore offering security guarantees to Iran’s most likely targets, like Israel and, perhaps someday, a peaceful and democratic Iraq.  This should include stronger relationships with alliances like NATO.  At the same time, America and its allies must create new and better ways to promote basic freedoms and democratic reforms in the hopes of mellowing the Tehran regime.

The consequences of Iran going nuclear are so serious that we must be placing far more energy now in a solution to stop it.  But given our limited options for doing so – and the real likelihood that whatever we do, the Iranian regime is not persuadable – responsible governance requires that we begin to prepare for the worst.


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Limited options?

Security assurances: the US won't attack Iran first.

Serious negotiation by the US with NPT partners on Article IV issues: How much of the fuel cycle should be available to all nations? Under what circumstances?

Back off from possible US NPT violations: slow down or stop the drive toward bunker busters and reliable replacement warheads. Decommission the nukes that are being taken out of deployment via the Moscow Treaty.

Tighten up or drop the deal with India.

And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

It's easy if you haven't internalized the administration's propaganda.

But in Tehran, the hard-line mullahs and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad show little sign that they are interested in bargaining for anything less than an independent nuclear capability. They are on a collision course with the rest of the world – and rather than sensing trouble, they seem to relish the situation.

This appraisal seems a bit hysterical to me. I know your tendency is to come down on the hawkish side in these sorts of debates, Derek, but I'm still a bit suprised that you don't consider the possibiliy of direct talks with Iran - not even to reject such talks. Fortunately there are some experienced and sober statesmen, like Dick Lugar, who haven't lost their sense of perspective.

We've heard a lot about the sticks recently, but the carrots available to the US are impressive indeed. One of Iran's top concerns is the $10 B - $12 B in assets that were frozen in 1979 following the hostage crisis. The US also maintains stringent economic sanctions against Iran. Surely the prospect of having those assets unfrozen and sanctions lifted, opening up a market of hundreds of millions of avid consumers in the world's wealthiest country, while at the same time making more US products available to Iran's own eager young consumers, provide some very attractive negotiating chips.

And let's not forget the security concerns. The US now operates bases on Iran's western border in Iraq, and on its northeastern border in Afghanistan. It has cooperative ties with Pakistan's government, one of the two major nuclear powers in the region that are rivals of Iran. It has a very strong presence in the Arabian/Persian Gulf. It operates UAV flights inside Iran, and reportedly runs covert operations on the ground inside the country. It is now purportedly funding dissident activity and destabilization in Iran. It has strong relations with Iraqi Kurds, and with anti-Iran forces in Lebanon. And of course it has very strong relations with Israel, the other major Iranian rival and nuclear power in the region.

In fact, almost all of the major US security moves since 9/11 can be seen as ways of tightening the noose around Iran. The US is thus in a position to do very much indeed to provide Iran with a more comfortable economic and security situation. We have abundant bunches of carrots to offer. Whether the encirclement of Iran, and the most recent round of saber-rattling, is intended only to extract the best terms from the eventual deal, or whether the administration is really determined to strike, is hard to say.

And the same question can be asked about the Iranian regime. Are some of its recent statements and weapons tests just meant to up the ante and extract better terms, or are they in earnest? Or is it both? Count me as one of those who believes Iran itself is angling for a deal, and would be prepared to accept a rigorous inspection regime and other confidence-building safeguards on its civilian nuclear program in exchange for some of the above-mentioned carrots. Might I be wrong? Of course. But the only way we can tell is to have US negotiators sit down with Iran and take the measure of the other side in face-to-face meetings. The time to move beyond negotiation by proxy, and through the media, is now upon us.

It is not clear whether George Bush, who was a dismal businessperson, recognizes a highly advantageous negotiating position when it is right in front of him, or that he has the brains to make what would be a great deal for his own country. Time will tell.

Of course, there are many in both political parties, and among our allies, who are absolutely opposed to any opening between the US and Iran. They fear that in the long term these talks would lead to a major strategic reorientation in Washington, to a pronounced thaw in US-Iranian relations, and even to an eventual alliance or friendship between the US and the emerging power in the Middle East. We have some uber-hawks who would prefer to attack Iran and risk a total regional meltdown rather than allow such an opening. And we even have other, more dovish characters who would prefer to bow to the supposed "inevitability" of an Iranian nuclear weapon, and a Middle East arms race rather than talk. The path toward a breakthrough will require overcoming these naysayers.

We have even more to offer. Israel could give up their nukes, and both the USA and USSR give security guarantees to every nonnuclear nation in the middle east.

On the other hand, there's nothing really worse about a nuclear iran than a nuclear pakistan or a nuclear korea. This whole controversy is timed for the US mid-terms. That's the time that's running out. If we don't do something by early November then it will be too late to influence the election.

I wind up looking back at iraq. Fool me twice? No. Bush is the little boy who cried wolf. We can't trust anything that comes out of his administration. Support him in another war? No. If Bush and Cheney think that a new aggressive war is necessary, they can step down and get a new president who isn't a known liar to start the war. If they think it's really important for the nation....

Fool me again? No way in hell.

To my mind, J., a nuclear Pakistan is in fact much worse than a nuclear Iran, given Pakistan's terrible instability and seething, dissident radicalism.

The Iranian regime, by contrast, seems rather stable. Why we would want to destabilize it, I don't know.

And we even have other, more dovish characters who would prefer to bow to the supposed "inevitability" of an Iranian nuclear weapon, and a Middle East arms race rather than talk.

Is this an attempt at journalistic balance, Dan? What dovish characters are against diplomacy and offering carrots?

I do know a few people who are leery of giving Bush some rope for fear he'll hang us all -- but there's good cause to fear this, as you yourself just said.

The America SAD DENIAL Case

Your war against Fear is not justified. It is actually a Resource War for oil, and a currency war for the dollar. Global Oil production has peaked and US will suffer the most from this crisis. The United States uses 25% of the world’s oil yet only has 5% of the world’s population. America is heavily in debt and bankruptcy is unavoidable. The coming housing bust will send the economy into a second greater depression.

While the Middle East countries find themselves targets in the "war on terror", China, Russia, and Latin America find themselves targets in the recently declared and much more expansive "war on tyranny." Whereas the "war on terror" is really a war for control of the world's oil reserves, this newly declared "war on tyranny" is really a war for control of the world's oil distribution and transportation chokepoints.

The dollar is in collapse, the economy is going to crash, oil is getting more scarce everyday. America is a nation that has its infrastructure built exclusively to be run on abundant cheap oil, with global demand of oil increasing exponentially and supply decreasing year after year, America has no other choice than to wage a global war on oil and currency and under the ruse of terror and freedom.

What? No believe? You still denial??

Is your entire country on crack? Are all you Americans out of your cotton picking minds? Are you completely freaking delusional? Homicidal? Psychotic? Have you lost any shred of a moral compass? WHAT IN THE NAME OF JESUS H. CHRIST ON A CRUTCH IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!!!!!

Let me offer up one small datum which may completely change the equation for you: According to the CIA (If they have any credibility left.) even accord to them Iran is at least five years away from a nuclear weapon.

Five years.

Five years is time for diplomacy to accomplish a hell of a lot.

I would also point out that the Atomic Energy Commission, various other international bodies and other inspections have essentially found no sign that Iran is even working on a nuclear weapon.

The only actual evidence that Iran has anything close to nuclear weapons technology is blueprints *that the CIA gave to them!*

Have you all forgotten that the evidence on Iraq was spectacularly wrong? Have you all ignored the fact that it was fabricated? Why then are we going down the exact same road of stage managed, fabricated pseudo-evidence and wild-ass hysteria?

What is wrong with you people?

This entire crisis has been manufactured, and has been years in the making.

Stop and think back five years. What did we have five years ago? A moderate reformist Iranian government making overtures to the United States, rebuilding its relationship with Europe, liberalizing its society, and modernizing its economy.

Post 9/11 vigil in Iran. 9/11 comes along, the Iranians are overflowing with sympathy. Mass candlelit vigils are held in Tehran. Iran offers aid and cooperation.

Iran hates the Taliban who have executed Iranian diplomats and massacred Afghan Shiites. Iran hates Saddam Hussein. Iran hates Al Qaeda which is a Sunni Fundamentalist organization which declares Shiites infidels and subhuman.

Iran shares its intelligence with America - they even arrested Taliban members and handed them over to US custody.

So we've got the Iranian spring; things are finally going to sort out.

And what happens? The Bush administration rebuffs every Iranian overture and does its best to instigate a cold war. Afghanistan is invaded, and suddenly, the Iranians are looking at American troops and allies on their eastern border. Then Iraq is invaded, and American troops and allies on their western border. Then bases and treaties in Uzbekistan, and whoops, there's more American troops and allies on the northern border. The Persian Gulf is filled with American warships and carrier fleets.

Now the Iranians are surrounded. And the tough talk is constant. Iran is part of the 'Axis of Evil' and Americans tell each other "Baghdad, humph, real men go to Tehran." Essentially, America has been threatening military action against Iran for the last five years, and has surrounded the country on every side with troops, bases and allies.

American aircraft invade Iranian airspace regularly, American special forces undertake operations inside Iran and Americans regularly accuse Iranians of interference in Iraq.

Dick Cheney pontificates about Israel bombing Iran *after he has just handed over to Israel the long range bombers and bunker busting bombs* required to do the job.

Meanwhile, the United States undertakes economic warfare against Iran, interfering with its business dealings with third party countries, trying to scuttle a pipeline deal with India, and it goes on and on. The hysteria about the Iranians nuclear program is just more of the same.

Now how in God's Bloody Name do you think the Iranians are going to respond to that. Should they concede the nuclear program, abandon their pipeline project? If so, its not going to do them any good. America will just seek more concessions. Each surrender will be met by new demands. This isn't hard to figure out. It's exactly what Bush did with Iraq.

Perhaps overtures, good will gestures, trying to act like a peaceful nation. Did all those things, doesn't matter. The Bush administration is still on a collision course.

So, the Mullahs are concerned that they're faced with a homicidal crazy state, the Iranian people are scared. When people are scared and faced with an aggressive warmongering power which keeps threatening to attack them, continually trespasses on its borders and is undertaking economic warfare... who the hell are they going to elect? Ahminajad may be a crazy bastard, but you assholes, you utter assholes did every thing you could to elect him short of donating 50,000 Diebold machines and mailing his party the trapdoor codes.

So, having pursued a psychotically aggressive course, you've backed Iran into a corner, and engineered a regime which refuses to back further.

And *you* are the victims in all this? *You* are the ones under threat? It's *self defense*????

And of course, you goofily believe that you can just bomb or nuke Iran with impunity?

Holy microeconomic theory batman! Iran's nuclear facilities are distributed across the country and in hardened sites near population centers. So any strike that cripples a significant portion of Iran's nuclear capacity will inevitably be so large and kill so many people that its going to be tantamount to inviting full scale war.

Think about that. Iran is 70 million people, an area five times the size of Iraq, not disemboweled by 12 years of sanctions and air raids. On the other side of the coin, America's ground army is busted and tied down in Iraq. There's no troops to throw at a major Iranian military force, so you have to hope that bombing will do the trick. The occupation forces in Iraq are in occupation and not territorial defense mode. And Iraq is 65% Shiites who are probably not going to be happy that you're blowing up their brother Shiites.

Meanwhile, the Strait of Hormuz is so narrow that sinking one supertanker will block it indefinitely, and Iran borders the strait on three sides. Block Hormuz and any naval groups inside the Persian Gulf are trapped there. Any naval groups outside the Persian Gulf are trapped outside. Forget about any oil coming out of the Persian Gulf from Iraq, Kuwait, Quatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia or the UAE. Think about what that does to the price of oil, and to the world economy. Think about what that does to dependent countries like Japan, India, China and Europe.

In short it’s so appallingly stupid and colossally risky, that I can see why your idiots in charge might consider using nuclear weapons. But throw a few nukes around and see how the rest of the world reacts? Every dirt-wad country is going to be mortgaging the Presidential palace to get its own nuclear deterrent from Pakistan or North Korea. How do you feel about the Indonesian Bomb, the Malaysian Bomb, the Thai Bomb, the Myanmar Bomb, the Algerian Bomb, the Saudi Bomb, the Egyptian Bomb, the Brazilian Bomb, the Argentine Bomb, the Venezuelan Bomb, the Cuban Bomb, the Japanese Bomb, the Canadian frigging Bomb. You are no longer trustworthy. North Korea, always borderline psychotic is going to be mondo difficult to deal with. You've just guaranteed yourself a full fledged nuclear arms race, balls to the wall with both Russia and China, and quite possibly Europe.

And of course there's no guarantee that the rest of the world will allow this. Do you want an armed standoff with the Russians? Suppose they 'loan' their finest interceptor jets, pilots and radar systems to the Iranians... Do you want to meet *that* on a bombing raid? And if you do meet *that* what are you going to do when half your planes are blasted out of the skies conducting an illegal raid on civilian populations in a foreign country? Cry? Send a harsh note?

Launch a first strike?

World goes boom. What happens if the Chinese decide to hold Taiwan and South Korea hostage? What do you do? Back off Iran or sell out East Asia?

Hell, in that kind of standoff, someone sneezes and its not going to matter who launched a first strike.

Or would you like an economic standoff, say with Europe, or with Japan and China. Suppose that the Europeans or Chinese decide "screw the worldwide depression, you assholes are just too dangerous to have around." Trillions of dollars get dumped on the market, loans get called in, the bottom drops out of your dollar, its thousand per cent inflation and no manufacturing base and your own trade embargoes. So much for America.

I mean, it’s morally wrong; it’s stupid on every level. And yet here you are discussing why maybe you should get out in front of the Republicans on this, or planning your surrender to Bush. Why are you even discussing this?

What is wrong with America?

Case in Iraq:

Anyone here still remember the scam of Al Samoud 2?

I totally forgot about it until today when I read that Iran has enriched a supply of uranium for the first time and Iran's president has said Iran won't back down ``one iota'' over its nuclear program.

Remember when Saddam backed down? Its been so long even MY memory's
been washed by Washington, but before the WMB bullshit we were hearing ranting and trash from Bush that it was because of Iraq's Al Samoud 2 missiles had 10 miles extra range than allowed by the UN [funny how US itself never follows UN regulations] that the US was going to attack Iraq. Al Samoud 2 was a big issue for a while, and Bush gave Saddam an ultimatum of a week or so to disarm and destroy all 90 some missiles or else the US EVIL EMPIRE was going to attack....

what happened?

Saddam disarmed all missiles.

and then...

US Charged in with Guns a Blazing....
SHOOT FIRST THEN ASK questions torture...

Quick Draw Trigger Happy Cheney saying GO FUCK YOURSELF to the world.

The point is, North Korea, Iran and indeed the rest of the world saw this and learn from Iraq's lesson. When dealing with EVIL like the US WHEEL OF EVIL EMPIRE there is no use in disarming your own weapons!!!!
Any country that still does that is PLAIN STUPID!!! LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO IRAQ!!!!

The Native Americans was too slow to learn the lesson, Iraq was too dumb to learn the lesson. Lets hope Iran does a pre-emptive strike FIRST this time and give Shrub a taste of his own medicine!!!

Now, to be fair I realize most Americans do not take lightly to criticism. But what about reason? Logic? Or plain common sense?

You seem to agree with the doctrine of pre-emptive strike correct? You say that if you know your enemy will attack you anyway, that it is your duty and obligation to attack them first to prevent damage to yourself.

So when I that Iran should attack America’s military and not wait until it is first attacked upon, what then do you have to object? I am simply praticing YOUR DOCTRINE OF PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE. If an enemy [the US in this case], will attack you anyway, (like how America will attack Iran, and how US with its proven track record DID attack Iraq) it is then Iran's duty and obligation to pre-emptive the pre-emptive strike. America has proven TIME AND TIME AGAIN that is PRACTICES THE DOCTRINE OF STRIKING FIRST, so why the hell should other nations not do the same? If I know a bully in my neighboorhood already took out 5 of my neighboors why the hell should I not practice what he does and take HIM out first?

So if you [US] can do it, why can no other country practice the same thing?

Let us not forget one of your major characteristics: your duality in both manners and values; your hypocrisy in manners and principles. All*manners, principles and values have two scales: one for you and one for the others.

Your war against Fear is not justified. It is actually a Resource War for oil, and a currency war for the dollar. Global Oil production has peaked and US will suffer the most from this crisis. The United States uses 25% of the world’s oil yet only has 5% of the world’s population. America is heavily in debt and bankruptcy is unavoidable. The coming housing bust will send the economy into a second greater depression.

While the Middle East countries find themselves targets in the "war on terror", China, Russia, and Latin America find themselves targets in the recently declared and much more expansive "war on tyranny." Whereas the "war on terror" is really a war for control of the world's oil reserves, this newly declared "war on tyranny" is really a war for control of the world's oil distribution and transportation chokepoints.

The dollar is in collapse, the economy is going to crash, oil is getting more scarce everyday. America is a nation that has its infrastructure built exclusively to be run on abundant cheap oil, with global demand of oil increasing exponentially and supply decreasing year after year, America has no other choice than to wage a global war on oil and currency and under the ruse of terror and freedom.

What? No believe? You still denial??

Don’t forget what horrible unspeakable atrocities your nation did to the Native Americans who were here before them.

America is not a legitimate nation. It is a British renegade colony that should have been repatriated. The Evil Colony of America and the Evil Treacherous George Washington General Coward betrayed his own England and set up this Avarice Nation. The Evil American Colony sent a bitching letter to King George and in essence said they were tired of paying their fair share of the taxes, but used the ruse of ‘taxation without representation’ as a pitiful pathetic excuse to cheat the motherland of resources.

This is true beginning of the EVIL AVARICE NATION that you so ardently defend.
This nation later went on and killed all the Native Americans. This is the Evil nation that usurped land from the French and called it a so called “Louisiana Purchase”. That’s like me going to the BMW car dealership and driving off with the latest 760Li and paying only 15 cents. That’s a ‘purchase’ all right… Do I need to remind you America Robbed Texas from Mexico? And then the Evil wasn’t satisfied so it did a pre-industrial version of Operation Northwood’s and then went down to the capital of Mexico and forced the Pres. Of Mexico to give away all the rest of the West to the US Wheel-Of-Evil Empire.

Any nation that steals so VAST amount of virgin LAND, Territory, resources, will of course attract talent like light attracts flies. This is Darwinism in action here. Greediest of the Greediest people of the world immigrate the America. These Avaricious lovers of Lust and Evil procreate and mingle with other fellow most-greedy-of-the-earth evil lovers and pretty soon of a few short generations you have most avaricious, self-serving, underhanded, egoistic, hypocritical, lustful, greedy SOBs in the entire universe.

Nothing America has belonged to America. Nothing Americans have achieved was because of America itself. This country is one big party of a free ride that runs on the rape, murder, torture, usurping, robbery, thievery, hijacking, empirizing, conquering,
Of other peaceful innocent nations. It has never done anything good for anyone except itself own selfish pig citizens.

And it would be extremely hypocritical of you to say well that’s all in the past. It was not that long ago when you mass murdered the Native Americans. Why are you charging Saddam for a crime no did not commit over 30 years ago??

You still in denial?

Your country uses extremist Muslim religions as an excuse to fight them for oil. You have been thoroughly brainwashed if you believe what you have been told.

Always remember this, the Arabs are NOT the ones in our land attacking and bombing our children, destroying our homes and robbing our resources. The Arabs are not the ones with Gigantic Military Killing Machines that are targeting our homeland, bulldozing our buildings, knocking down our Statue of Liberty. They do not have soldiers occupying our land (technically not even our land), raping American woman or cutting off the balls of American men. Sure they did 9/11, but 9/11 was but a drop in the bucket compared to what the US did to them. 9/11 was the act of a few terrorists, that cannot be compared to the prolonged repeated conquering, occupy, exploiting, and repressing of entire nations at the thumb and whip of the US Wheel-of-Evil Empire.

They are not the ones imposing economical sanctions on our nation, starving our children and weakening our population. They are not the ones who have Mac Mansions and drive luxury SUV’s and have Comcast internetS and living the grandiose life at the expense of poor third world nations of the entire world.

Imagine if such things happened to America? Unimaginable..
Think about that..

The pitiful thing is they can’t even get a fair revenge..

Are you beginning to see the imbalance?

What freedom do we really have? Do you think the citizens of America could find a ‘basis of negotiation’ with the Big Corporations of America? or with its current government? Americans yell and scream freedom down the throats of other people, but they fail to see they themselves are the least free of all. Their addiction to oil and free shopping spree and lustful desires has not only enslaved themselves, but held captive are also the innocent citizens and youth of Middle Eastern nations and countless other countries across the world. They are so morally and fiscally deprived that they have dragged the chains of slavery unto the entire world. Is this anyone’s idea of a model of ‘freedom’? America's freedom and happiness directly comes from the expense of others, depriving them of their fair share of ‘freedom’, and yet these US hypocrites turn around and decree other nations need to be further ‘liberated’ to perpetuate their American Entitlement.

Do not for a second confuse standard of living for freedom, especially when you realize America’s high standard of living comes directly from the expense of those already much less fortunate.

I’m sure some Americans will do anything to defend the name of their country and their lifestyle, despite all facts to the contrary. Is that not as powerful or perhaps more powerful than Middle Eastern religious zeal? Too bad for the Middle Eastern religious nuts who don't know this, but in this world those with big weapons & Advanced Killing Machines ALWAYS WIN.. The existence of American in this universe proves that there is no justice and fairness in this world, and also that there cannot possibly be any ‘God’, for no God would be so cruel. Foolish Muslims….

It is not so bold an assertion nor an exaggeration to make to say that America is the single greatest threat to humanity. And the Greatest Disgrace and disservice to all life forms on earth.

What? You still in denial?

You can argue all you want. But who's better off? The American people or the people of nations it attacks?

Who sends their kids to private schools, piano lessons, soccer games, football games, to cheerleading tryouts, to UIL's??

American has manipulated global markets and currency in the past to pay of its massive debt, and then when the third world suffers directly because of its actions it gives a tiny little aid and call it a great humanitarian effort.

It's comparable to robbing a bank and giving back the spare change in your pocket. Its an PR act, you should see it for what it really is.

I'll bet anything that the Iraq people would much RATHER fix our national highways, if it means there citizens could live OUR lifestyle..

My question to you American's : would you switch places with the third world that you terrorize? if you can't say yes, then stop bitching.
Put your money where your mouth is you hypocrites.

Still no believe??

Metaphorically speaking, you and others like you are the type of people who would complain that handicap parking spaces are unfair because that means you have to walk furthur, or that its unfair that the homeless doesn't have to pay any taxes. But let me assure you that the handicapped would much rather have their HEALTH back than a handicap placard, and the homeless would much rather have a roof over their heads, a nice warm cozy bed with a family and kids and take vacations to exotic places twice a year and would be MORE THAN HAPPY to pay those taxes that you would so despise.

The point is, the grass is NOT always greener on the other side, certaintly not when the 'other side' is someplace in the Middle East.

Bottomline: who has benefited because of America's actions over the last two hundred years? Certaintly not the Native Americans.....

Something to think about ya know...

I should point out to you that terrorism is actually a war tactic.
One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorists. If you apply
the strict definition of 'terrorism' and not that of the FOX 4 version, you would see that America sends their own 'terrorists' to foreign lands much more than the number of terrorists who have come here to attack the U.S.

Terrorism is much like asymmetric warfare. It is a tactic deployed by the weak against the strong. That fact in and of itself should answer your question as to why 'terrorists' don't rebuild power plants, schools and water systems...

If they had that ability, they would not need to resort to terrorism in the first place. And let it also be known that America is not doing such great services for the benefit of the Iraqi people but only for its own long term self interest and political agenda of worldwide domination.

Believing in anything else would be like a kid accepting a ride from a stranger for the benefit of the candy bar. He's giving me candy so he must have my best intentions at heart, right??

And please don’t use a religious excuse ever again.

religion is not the main issue here. Religion is NOT why we [US Army] are in Iraq. Religion is NOT why we will be in Iran. Religion is NOT why we were in Korea, or Vietnam, and its also not why we nuke Japan twice even though they were prepared to surrender.

When America fights China over oil and resources the U.S. will have to come up with something else besides 'religion' to explain away their addiction of usurping. I wonder to myself if the only the Native Indian Americans were Christians to begin with they might not have suffered their ultimate fate??? hmmm....

Religion is really not even the issue here at all. Your missing the real point. We [U.S.] are like the drug dealers who got these poor people into this hellhole and mess in the first place, and then we blame them for their condition. Wake up America! If you don't, [and I know you won't] peak oil will be your alarm clock that you can't shut off.

Still no believe?

Maybe you say since I live in American I should just shut up and stop complaining. Well, I have but this to say to you:

again, your argument that just because I live here in America I should shut up and stop complaining is [b]hypocritical.

When the Chinese government tells its own people the same thing, somehow the US WHEEL OF HYPOCRISY will intervene and starting bitching at Hu for not giving enough 'civil right' to the Chinese people.

Since when did the US GOV care about Chinese people? Last time I checked they very bitched about the trade imbalance and China’s growing oil demands. If they [US] are caring they sure as hell aren’t showing it by their actions.

You still denial?

Have you heard of Operation Northwood’s? If not I encourage you to do some research of it online or at a library. America Northwood’s was America’s EVIL PLAN to bomb and murder it own citizens and frame it on foreign nations in order to get ‘justification’ for an unpopular war. And this is just what is make public, your government is clearly capable of doing must more evil considering all the secret classified documents of plans such as Operation Northwoods that will never be make public.

And for those of you not in the know, there is ample irresputable evident that on 9/11 World Trade Center Building 7 was bombed by your own US Government. WTC 7 collapsed in a precisely vertical fashion. First, no building collapses exactly vertically unless it was engineered and rigged to do so. Second, WTC was a steel building. And no steel building has ever collapsed due to minimal fire. What is the motive you ask? Your EVIL EMPIRE propaganda machine loves drama. Americans citizens are the mob, and George Walker Commodus will use fear and drama to feeds American’s people to the lions (CEO Government, Big Business, Military-Industrial Complex) and you will THANK HIM FOR IT.

Isn’t that what you are doing now?

What, still denial?

Then let me give you this cool movie clip, perhaps it can enlighten you of reality.


Bo Chen

Bo Chen, we americans have a much shorter attention span than you give us credit for.

Maybe you would do better if you divide your comment into about ten or twenty shorter ones, and publish them separately on different days and different blogs.

Is this an attempt at journalistic balance, Dan? What dovish characters are against diplomacy and offering carrots?

I do know a few people who are leery of giving Bush some rope for fear he'll hang us all -- but there's good cause to fear this, as you yourself just said.

Maybe "dovish" was a poor choice of words Cal. In this case it just means "those opposed to war with Iran." Certainly, many of the doves favor talks. But in recent weeks, I have read comments by several people who are opposed to war and the sticks-only approach, but who seem resolutely determined to avoid even the slightest mention of direct talks with the Iranian government. They thus lead themselves, and through their words the rest of us, into a dangeous false trichotomy among bombing Iran and setting the Middle East on fire, far-fetched plans to bring Iran to its knees through sanctions, or acquiescing in a nuclear-armed Iran.

Thomas Friedman wrote a column recently in which he seemed to settle on a choice between bombing and acquiescing. However, one notes that his only reason for opposing the bombing at the present time is that George Bush is the one who would be doing the bombing.

No one will be happier than me when Bush and his band of lying, murderous incompetents are gone. But I can't say I am enthused by the prospect of trading in dangerous right wing opinion leaders like Bill Kristol for equally dangerous windbags like Friedman.

J Thomas, don't worry. this line tells you everything you need to know about his rant:
"And for those of you not in the know, there is ample irresputable evident that on 9/11 World Trade Center Building 7 was bombed by your own US Government"

I'm sorry that guy wasted so much bandwith on your site. I will try to be brief. I have seen very few articles maybe one or two about a hardcore blockade. Ths isn't North Korea, I think that without the sale of oil and the lack of importation of other energy like gasoline a regime change would be a lot more likely. I don't like the idea of a cold war. And I don't like the idea of another Cuban Missile Crisis Redux in the Namitz Straight... But I think if we could start being creative now (5 years out) then maybe something could turn before its too late. If Ahmahjihad is crazy enough to sell the technology to the Sudanese, as was mentioned today on the world is headead down the crapper much faster than most would like to think. I simply don't think we can allow them to have the bomb.
All the best.
And thank you for allowing this discussion

Libertarian soldier, he's wrong. The evidence that the US government was behind 9/11 is not indisputable at all. There's a reasonable possibility that the US government was not involved at all.

However, being wrong on that one point doesn't mean he's wrong on everything. Certainly the american people have been deluding ourselves. But he can't expect us to read something so long.

Ths isn't North Korea, I think that without the sale of oil and the lack of importation of other energy like gasoline a regime change would be a lot more likely.

Spongebob, the problem is too many other governments depend on iranian oil. They won't put up with an effective embargo unless -- at a minimum -- we give them solid proof that the iranians are working on a bomb. And so far we have given them no proof of that.

If Ahmahjihad is crazy enough to sell the technology to the Sudanese

Sudan has signed the NPT. They have as much right to NPT-approved technology as any other signer, and other signers have the right to give or sell them that technology, under NPT inspection.

Are you sure iran has offered them more than that?

Diplomacy won't work as long as the Bush administration shows absolutely no faith in the UN whatsoever.

Further, is it reasonable to suggest we "can't live" with a nuclear Iran, when the Middle East is having a hard time living with a nuclear United States?

Well said, JP. The US is constantly making resolutions with the UN and not following up on them. The Millennium Development Goals for instance, which were supposed to bring an end to global poverty, are now treated like they don't even exist. The US and 190 other countries signed onto these goals, but the current administration is trying to back out in a major way now. One more way in which the UN is cast aside the moment is stops lining up with American interests.
If both of these trends continue, we will not only live with the reality of nuclear war, but also with the reality that we could have done something about extreme poverty and we didn't.

This is some of the most unmitigated bullshit I have ever read. You make no mention that when Russia had thousands of nukes pointed at us the theory of Mutually Assured Destruction worked just fine to keep the peace.

Even if Iran had nukes now they would not dare use them for that reason - they would be immediately destroyed and buried under ten feet of glass. If they developed a nuke, gave it to someone else, and that someone else used it, the nuclear signature would lead straight to the source and again, they would be immediately destroyed.

I am so sick of all the fear-mongering, from EITHER side of the isle; it's embarrassing to me as an American. Why?

Because I am an American who refuses to let others try to make me live in fear. Bushco has so fucked up the mentality of America with its reckless wars and bullshit rhetoric.

I FEAR NO COUNTRY! even as broken as our military is becoming we can, and, I'm sure, would wipe any nation that attacked us with nukes right off the face of the earth, so why the hell should I care about Iran having nukes? Muslims may have different religious views, but they aren't stupid.

The main reason they want a nuke is to prevent the rogue country that Amerika has become from attacking them. If you have oil, Amerika will find or manufacture a reason to attack you IF YOU DO NOT HAVE NUKES. Even we aren't stupid enough YET to attack a nuclear armed nation and ensure the destruction of America. Mutually Assured Destruction works.

If we attack yet again another Muslim nation without provocation (and their legitimate pursuit of nuclear power or even their desire to be able to provide for their defense against nuclear armed aggressors IS NOT sufficient provocation) the entire world may go up in flames, especially if the insane Bush administration attacks a non-nuclear armed nation with nuclear weapons!

If you thought the international riots over cartoon was bad, wait until Bush provides PROOF POSITIVE (to the Muslim world) that he intends to destroy all Muslims. 1.2 Billion of them, 300-million of us. Why, only one-third of them need to kill just one American each and WE will be wiped from the earth.

Bush has already show that he will lie, cheat, obfuscate, conceal important info, misuse intelligence and anything else he must do to further his messianic vision of Armageddon and the coming of the Rapture. he just reaffirmed last week that his foreign policy is dictated by God, whom I suspect Bush talks to AND HEARS ANSWERS FROM.

No, the destruction of America, the ideals and standards we developed over the last two hundred years is not enough for King George. He must destroy the world to save it, just as he will lie to us again and tell us Iran must be destroyed to 'save" it.


"And so far we have given them no proof of that"
Are you saying you think Iran is pursuing in a completely peaceful way ? If so, I'm afraid our conversation is at an impasse, as we would no longer talking about stopping Iran, but rather we should do anything at all. I will go one step further though, and say that Russia and China, really don't care if they are pursuing the bomb anyway. I simply feel Iran has nothing but the worst of intentions. Thus, why I feel they need to be stopped. It isn't media or political fed, but simply a look at what they have said. "Israel off the map. Holocaust not real. Isreal a dying branch"...on and on. It's not hard to connect the dots here.
As far as Sudan and the NPT, I did not know that piece of information. Thank you, I will try to research that. If this information is just "available" for those countries I don't understand why they need to get it from Iran. Has Iran signed the trety? If so I would imagine they were pretty clost to being in violation at this point....which would mean Sudan shouldn't work with them either.

Are you saying you think Iran is pursuing in a completely peaceful way ?

I dunno. It looks superficially unlikely. They were doing some things that probably are allowed by the treaty, but they didn't tell the inspectors about them. That puts them in violation of the treaty.

They are doing things that would be useful for power reactors, and also would be useful for weapons. Will they do the further steps toward weapons? Nobody can tell, but if we wait until the last minute it will be harder to stop them, whatever they're doing.

They say they just want power reactors, and we say they don't need them. They have plenty of hydrocarbons to burn. They ought to just keep burning carbon until it's all gone and then think about what to do next. They have hundreds of years worth of oil and natural gas, they don't need nukes. Nuclear power is too good for them.

There's the problem that they have their own uranium, and we can't very well monitor how much they mine or what they do with it. Once they have a "complete fuel cycle" they'll be hard to monitor. We have come up with various schemes to let them have power plants and not nukes. Like, they have to send all their uranium to russia to be processed, and russia sends them back fuel adequate for power plants but not weapons, and after they use it they have to send it all back to russia to be reprocessed. The iranians didn't like that idea, which might be evidence they want nukes. But then, it surely seems insulting to them. Imagine back before WWI, when the USA was talking about staying out of any coming wars. Imagine that the superpowers of the day all agreed that we mustn't be allowed an effective military. So they said we must ship all our iron ore to britain and they'd ship us steel back, to make sure we didn't smelt any armor plate suitable for battleships. And we had to ship all our scrap iron to britain too just in case we tried to make armor plate that way. And if we didn't go along they'd wreck all our foreign trade and try to wreck our economy. Even if we really didn't intend to build much of a navy we'd be pretty put out by that.

All the details aside, I tend to think the iranians intend to make nuclear weapons. We've been gunning for them for 5 years, and they believe if they get nukes we'll back off. It only makes sense they'd want nukes.

But we have claimed they're doing it, and we've presented no proof yet. No real evidence. Maybe we'll present some to the Security Council. But it needs to be pretty good evidence after the complete fuckup with iraq. It would be silly for the UN to take our word for it now.

Yes, iran has signed the NPT. They have gotten some help with power plants from other signers, that's the reward they're supposed to get for signing the treaty. If they break the treaty (or withdraw from it, which they can do on 3 months notice) then nobody's supposed to help them any more. And the USA will bomb them. The reason israel and india get away with nuclear bombs is officially that they never signed the treaty. Unofficially of course we're fine with our friends getting nukes but we'll do anything including war crimes to stop our enemies from getting them.

War crimes. It's considered unacceptable to attack another country without sufficient reason. Before we invaded iraq we tried to get the UN to say it was OK, because of the claimed iraqi nuclear program. The UN wouldn't go along. We said that we were enforcing a previous UN resolution, and ignored that the UN did not currently agree. The rest of the world thinks we're war criminals already, but none of them is ready to bell the cat. Given that precedent, they're going to figure that if they agree to any censure of iran, we'll use that as our excuse to attack. So they have an incentive not to agree to anything. They didn't like the way we did iraq, and they probably won't like how we do iran.

Try to imagine how this would look if you were french, or russian, or chinese, or indian. The iranian government looks kind of crazy, and so does ours. The iranian army is pretty weak, but ours is probably stronger than the rest of the worlds' armies put together. The iranian navy consists of a few little ships, but ours is stronger than the rest of the world put together. Iran might have a nuke in a few years, but we have 10,000 of them with multiple extremely expensive delivery systems that can deliver them with a CEP of less than 20 feet. The iranian government hasn't invaded anybody (except iraq after iraq attacked first). The US government has invaded afghanistan and iraq in the last few years, and made direct threats against syria and iran (and maybe others, I start forgetting). Which one looks more dangerous, if you aren't an american?

Again, we have presented no proof whatsoever that iran has a weapons program. If you're american it's so obvious it doesn't need evidence. But if you aren't american the benefit of a war this month between the strong crazy country and the weak crazy country don't look so obvious.

It still has to be explained why Israel would accept a NATO guarantee of its security in return for allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. This would be tantamount to asking Israel to accept the loss of six million of its citizens in an Iranian nuclear first strike on the promise that NATO would annihilate Iran's 70 million people in retaliation. Would Europe in fact agree to retaliate (and would its agreement be credible) if Iranian nuclear missiles can reach Europe in a second strike? Should Israel accept the loss of its people even if Europe agrees in a convincing way to retaliate on its behalf? And would Iran be deterred?

What we need is a definition of a higher minimum standard of the common good internationally that demands equal sacrifice by all parties including the United States. The alternatives are waging another ad hoc war that will only delay the spread of nuclear weapons, or adjusting to a nuclear Iran and trusting that Israel will be satisfied with the promise of NATO to do something after six million Israelis have already been incinerated.

Personally I think we can afford to be more imaginative in the ideas we propose for diplomatic consideration before we make the first choice or ask Israel to make the second.

David, it looks like israel is perfectly capable of arranging their own second strike against iran. They don't have the airforce to do a full surgical strike against iran's nuclear program, which we estimate at hundreds or thousands of missions. But they can easily deliver missiles and cruise missiles to iran's cities.

I can't see britain or france using their nukes on iran to avenge a first strike against israel. I can certainly see the USA doing it. But israel wouldn't need that unless israel gets nuclear disarmament. I recommend that but it seems unlikely. Like, turn the whole middle east into a nuclear-free zone. No nukes for iran, no nukes for syria or egypt or saudi arabia or israel or anywhere in the region. Iran would have to deal with nuclear india and pakistan, and for that matter russia and china and USA, but of all their enemies israel is the one that's by far most likely to do a first strike. So they might agree to a deal like that. I have no idea what it would take to persuade the israelis, though. Nobody doubts that we'd nuke anybody who nuked israel, but I'm sure israeli negotiators would far rather have nukes under their own control to negotiate with.

Anywhere beyond the short run, it simply does not make sense to have a lot of israeli citizens living in israel. Nukes are getting cheaper to make, and cheap delivery systems are getting longer ranges, and they're getting easier to smuggle too. If israelis could live in peace with their neighbors it wouldn't matter, but that looks quite unlikely. In a nuclear world it makes no sense to collect a significant fraction of the world jewish population in a small area where 4 bombs could kill 90% of them. Plus there isn't nearly enough water.

JThomas - You're right about Israel having the ability to retaliate on its own. My point (and perhaps yours) is that deterrence may not work. A nuclear-free zone would be best. If that is not likely, I think a globally shared strategic defense of the kind that I urge on my website could address the security needs of the region in a way that might allow nuclear disarmament. But what I propose is long-range (and a long shot).

The problem is that the present level of national sovereignty everywhere is no longer functional in the kind of WMD world we are entering. The Arabs are just as threatened by nuclear-armed Islamic rivals as Israel, and I would like to see a new framework of world security in place before 20 or 30 million people are killed as a result and radioactive clouds rain fallout all over the northern hemisphere.

Now that diplomacy with Iran has apparently run its course, the alternatives that policy makers are willing to consider involve either another ad hoc US military action with no larger purpose or plan, or acquiescing in another case of nuclear proliferation. I hope there is time for alternatives to fight their way to a level where they can be given a fair hearing.

David, I think deterrence has a strong chance to work. But the israelis, reasonably enough, don't want deterrence. They want to be the only nuclear power in their region.

A nuclear-free middle east would be a good thing for the middle east and the world. But the israelis would have reasonable doubts. They say they cannot survive if they lose a single conventional war, ever. But there's no winner in a nuclear war, so probably they could survive anything at all if they are the only ones with nukes. While without nukes they might someday lose a conventional war.

Usually it doesn't work well to base everything on worst cases. If we had done that, we would have had at least a second nuclear war by now on the assumption that the alternative to attacking immediately might be worse. When we do look at worst cases it might make sense to hope for the best of the worst cases. And if deterrence does eventually fail -- the worst case -- I can think of no better way for it to fail than for israel to be evacuated of all israelis willing to avoid the war, and then a short nuclear war with lebanon. I wouldn't wish nuclear war on anybody but if there has to be one that looks like the best pairing. Afterward the world can compare the winner to the loser and we vastly improve the chance that there won't be another nuclear war for a very long time.

J Thomas - Wouldn't the successful destruction of a nation-state by nuclear weapons increase the likelihood of future nuclear wars? Allowing this threshhold to be crossed will make it harder, not easier, to control the spread and use of nuclear weapons in the future. The changes in the world that would be necessary to prevent nuclear weapons from being used would seem to me to require sacrifices that ought to be debated now.

The problem with deterrence is not with the theory but with the stability and character of governments. The governments seeking nuclear weapons today and in the future may not be as stable or as rational those in the Cold War. Hitler tried to develop nuclear weapons and would not have been as responsible in what he did with them as Stalin. Why should we assume that all future dictators with nuclear weapons will be Stalins and not Hitlers?

We are really entering a long-term crisis in which the current level of global security integration is the issue. The problem is not one of plugging nuclear leaks as they arise here and there or getting rid of this or that inconvenient state. The dike of global security itself is I think crumbling.

David, one of your later points first -- Hitler turned out to be quite responsible about nerve gas. We had it, he had it, he didn't use it on us and we didn't use it on him. That isn't a perfect precedent but it's the best we have. There's a strong chance if he had nukes and we had nukes, he wouldn't have used them at least until the last days when he may have felt he had nothing to lose.

And since we're dealing entirely in hypotheticals here, it's possible if Hitler had nukes and we had nukes, we might have agreed to some sort of negotiated surrender. Better to give up unconditional surrender and give them a few concessions like putting aside the war crimes trials, than exchange some cities. But it's hard to be sure how things would have come out if they were different.

I agree with you that global security integration is the issue. And it seems to me that our official actions can be interpreted as plugging individual nuclear leaks and getting rid of this or that state.

It very much looks to me like nonproliferation itself has crumbled. We're approaching the time that any non-poor nation that wants nukes will get them, though things like being able to mine their own uranium will make a big difference.

I think a lot of that is due to american actions. We are the experts, and we act like having nukes is vitally important. We have more than the rest of the world combined, and we make a big deal of helping other nations disarm while we make the barest pretense of disarming ourselves. We admit to 10,000 nukes and we consider it a desperate threat for one of our enemies to get one nuke. We seem to be doing all we can to make nukes look attractive.

I think maybe the whole world will get a different perspective when there's actually a nuclear war. Say it was israel and lebanon. And it ends up with israel gone and lebanon gone and radioactive fallout all around the world. There was a whole lot of panic from the minor Chernobyl fallout. This time the radioactivity would have tiny pieces of vaporised humans mixed with it. That would surely be an object lesson to the rest of us. This is what nuclear weapons get you. Also israel and lebanon are the smallest countries I know of that might plausibly get into a war. So they might result in the smallest amount of fallout.

If the next nuclear war involves a winner who gets away scot-free and a loser who gets nuked, then maybe lots of nations will think in terms of being winners. And it's vastly more expensive to have a reliable second-strike than a reliable first-strike.

But if the next war has only losers and the rest of us lose a little too, we might get a quick strong consensus that nukes are just plain bad news. I can't be sure. It's hard to predict what things will be like when they are very different. But there's a chance the coming nuclear war will bring the world past a lot of fantasies to a shocked realization. I pray it will be a *small* horrible example and not an *extremely large* horrible example.

J Thomas - Chemical weapons were not strategic in either of the world wars, but you are right that if both sides had acquired nuclear weapons simultaneously at some point before 1945, World War II probably would have ended, leaving the belligerents intact.

My question is whether rationality can be assumed to remain a constant as the number of unstable nuclear states multiplies. Incidently, there are two kinds of rationality involved in nuclear deterrence: one is the rationality of being deterred by the assurance of mutual destruction, the other is the calculation that one's opponent will be so deterred. What makes the Middle East so dangerous is that if the first cannot be assumed then the second becomes problematical.

A nuclear war would have to be very large in scale to overcome objections to an effective world order, but if the danger of such a war is growing then the need to think out an effective order will also grow. In any case, recent events would seem to confirm what past wars have tended to show, namely the importance of realistic postwar planning. Such planning, even if hypothetical, might also focus thinking before the disaster.

David, agreed about chemical weapons. Still, they're an example where deterrence worked in WWII. The germans saw how badly they could be hurt by chemical weapons, and chose not to use them.

"Strategic bombing" is an example the other way. Both sides had a belief that strategic bombing with conventional munitions could bring enemy populations to their knees, and both sides used it until the germans were no longer capable of doing it. It turned out that strategic bombing was mostly ineffective, though it had an effect on german oil supplies. Neither example really fits the nukes, and they point in opposite directions.

Incidently, there are two kinds of rationality involved in nuclear deterrence: one is the rationality of being deterred by the assurance of mutual destruction, the other is the calculation that one's opponent will be so deterred.

Yes. There's nothing quite so likely to make a government turn real real stupid as the idea that their enemy is just as stupid. "Nuclear war is getting there firstest with the stupidest."

Again, I claim that if the first nuclear war is an unmitigated disaster for both sides, that will do more than any amount of theory to persuade surviving nations that the advantage of striking first isn't worth enough to matter.

Great to see the Democrats are beginning to think hard about the hows of getting out of Iraq. It seems they also need to think hard about ways to stay out of Iran, with Israeli Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu telling the United Jewish Communities General Assembly at their annual meeting that "It's 1938 and Iran is Germany. And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bomb. Believe [Iranian leader Ahmadinejad] and stop him. This is what we must do. Everything else pales before this. He is preparing another Holocaust for the Jewish state."

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Despite new mission, US troops still in the fight in Iraq

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US troops will still be in combat and taking on Islamist militants in Iraq even as the American military moves to an "advise and assist" role with a smaller force, officials said Thursday.
The withdrawal of the last US combat brigade on Thursday was hailed as a symbolic moment for the controvers­ial American presence in Iraq, more than seven years since the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
But while the remaining 50,000 troops will no longer have a formal combat mission after September 1, they will be well-armed and possibly coming under fire as they join in manhunts for Al-Qaeda figures or other extremists­.
"I don't think anybody has declared the end of the war as far as I know," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told MSNBC.

It is now just a few weeks before some 1,500 Idaho soldiers leave for Camp Shelby, Miss., in preparatio­n for 10 months in Iraq. In addition to Idaho units, the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team will include another 600 each from Oregon and Montana. Beginning this weekend, many of them are heading to Boise's Gowen Field for the final round of training before being shipped out.

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