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"Take your carrots and stick 'em up your..."

With Seymour Hersh's piece on US plans for a possible attack on Iran, with nuclear weapons being discussed, I'm starting to wonder about the Bush administration's ability to actually practice diplomacy. And I think they might be on to something.

I once read that "diplomacy is the art of saying 'nice doggie' while reaching for a stick." In that sense, that very well could be the Bush administration's notion of diplomacy with regards to Iran. And with the current Iranian regime acting like a mad dog, it might just be the right approach.

Traditional diplomacy has followed the carrot and stick approach. Go along, and get a reward. Cause problems, get whacked. Liberals show their disdain for the stick, preferring to go for the carrot/no carrot model. That is a nice, moral, ethical position, but doesn't take into account the situations like Iran, when they don't put much value on the carrot.

The Bush administration (from my perspective) seems to have realized that the carrot is pretty useless here -- the only use Iran has for any carrots we offer is to stick 'em up our... well, where the sun don't shine, and then break it off. That leaves us just the stick approach.

Fortunately, there are numerous sticks available. One such is the UN. (Yeah, that's a pretty flimsy twig, but it's something.) We're pressuring the UN and the IAEA to lean on Iran over its nuclear ambitions. That isn't doing much, but the mere thought that the IAEA might refer the matter to the UN Security Council has Iran in a huge hissy.

Another stick is public statements and public pressure. We're doing that, too.

A third stick is subtle, unspoken threats. In Hersh's piece, he reports numerous military exercises being conducted right in front of Iran. We are showing them just what we can do, should we so choose. We even have bombers practicing the "over-the-shoulder" bomb-tossing maneuver that has only one application -- releasing a nuclear bomb, and then getting the hell out of the bomb's blast area.

A fourth stick is just a theory I've heard, but it makes sense. Hersh's piece is based on a bunch of sources. Every single one that talks about Bush the war-monger, Bush the psycho, Bush the Messiah, is anonymous. Could this whole story be a deliberate leak by the Bush administration, playing the good cop/bad cop game? Could Hersh have been used to deliver a message to Iran and the world at large, making threats on behalf of the Bush administration while not committing them to actually carry them out?

If Bush were to come out and say publicly "Iran will NOT be allowed to possess nuclear weapons, and we are prepared to attack and destroy any facilities and their associated defenses to make sure that happens," then he's committed himself to a certain course of action. Iran might decide he's bluffing and publicly defy that. And then Bush would be forced to carry out the threat or back down -- and he doesn't have much of a record of backing down.

But if the New York Times' star investigative reporter gets a bunch of anonymous sources to all make Bush's threat for him, in their own words, the threat is delivered without binding the US to actually carrying it out.

It's not the most subtle, nuanced, civilized form of diplomacy. But Iran hasn't shown much interest in subtlety, nuance, or civilized conduct. And Bush's critics call such tactics as barbaric and stupid.

But as a wise man once said, "if it's stupid and it works, it ain't stupid."

(Typo fixed in first sentence)


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Comments (26)

JT:First line--I t... (Below threshold)
Doug:

JT:

First line--I think you meant Iran, not Iraq. It seems to be a mistake that lots of outlets are making these days. (I even saw it in a crawl yesterday on FOX News.....)

Otherwise, a thoughtful piece, as usual.

I am feeling your pain, Jay... (Below threshold)

I am feeling your pain, Jay. The pain of "too much to do, not enough time to do it in" pain. That's two significant typos in (my reading) one day.

Hope things settle down soon for you...

Doug,The mistake tha... (Below threshold)
not such a mistake:

Doug,
The mistake that you talk about is so descriptive of the confusion in the minds of these fanatic zealots... it does not make a difference if it is an Iran or an Iraq - the rhetoric remains the same.

Seems more like an attempt ... (Below threshold)
Palmateer:

Seems more like an attempt by the MSM to stir up US voters against Bush.

IRAN - Seymour Hersh's N... (Below threshold)

IRAN - Seymour Hersh's Nuclear Option

JT:

Kobayashi Maru has an excellent piece this morning on the Iranian nuclear stick. Well worth the time to read.

I've linked to it with these comments.

RBT

*****

WWJBD?

No more multiculturual, metrosexual Mr. Nice Guy.

It's time to bring out the Jack Bauers.

WWJBD? [What Would Jack Bauer Do?]

The Blogos has been churning away on the lastest Seymour Hersh's journalistic nadir on that the Bush Administration may be considering an Iranian nuclear option. This to stave off the march of the Mad Mullahs to acquire nuclear weapons.

Kobayashi Maru has the best insightful analysis that RBT's seen so far and would consider it a must read!

RBT

*****

Iran, Negotiations and the Nuclear Option

The allegation by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker that the Bush administration is considering the use of special, tactical nuclear warheads in order to penetrate deeply buried Iranian nuclear weapons development bunkers is creating a major kerfuffle. In an otherwise check-mated situation is it more rational to keep one's queen out of play and resign the game or to bring her out and prevail? The question had barely been asked before the administration's critics and old-line thinkers have come out pounding the simplistic idea that 'nuclear' automatically means 'insane'.

[...]

A Must Read!

But if the New York Time... (Below threshold)
xyz:

But if the New York Times' star investigative reporter...

Uh, Hersh doesn't work for the New York Times.

I think Jay is right on. Th... (Below threshold)
Ken:

I think Jay is right on. The worst scenario is for the opponent to make a mistake based on incorrect assumptions about your character or resolve. This is a good way to avoid that mistake, to let the opponent know that all options really are on the table and must be included in the calculations.

I think the Bush bashing had to be in there to avoid making the story an obvious plant. I'll bet some Pentagon denizens are bellylaughing about how they claimed they might quit over the nuclear option.

Jay Tea - got a source for ... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea - got a source for the over-the-shoulder toss?

Dang. Thought that went out in the '50s. I don't like to hear they're practicing it again. And I would have thought that the likely candidates (the F-16, F-15s) would have sufficient speed to outrun the blast...

Oh, I forgot. There's one subsonic plane in the inventory that would be ideal - but wouldn't be able to outrun the blast without a head start...

J.


Yeah the over-the-shoulder ... (Below threshold)
Cro:

Yeah the over-the-shoulder thing is bullsh!t. That went out with the B-47.

Hersh no as much about the military as I know about... well I don't know that little about anything!

These events remind me of s... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

These events remind me of something Lt.Gen. Jay Garner, Bush's Man in Irag once said: "You all are reporting a lot about some demonstrations, and yeah, there's some demonstrations. . . .[But] Damn, fellas, we ought to be beating our chests every morning. We ought to look in the mirror and get proud and suck in our bellies and stick out our chests and say, 'Damn, we're Americans,' and smile." **a mirror into the soul**

It would be interesting to ... (Below threshold)

It would be interesting to read 50 years from now when thigs are declassified that the Hersh article was prompted by leaks because the Iranians didn't seem to be smart enough to figure out what we were trying to explain subtely to them with the "in radar range" demos.

This also reminds me of a conversation I recently had with a liberal. He wasn't worried about Iran getting nukes. When I pointed out that said nuke could be given to terrorists, he still wasn't worried. When I tried to take him down the next level of the logical path that said nuke in the hands of said terrorist could be used to destroy a US city, he still said it wasn't a problem. I took one last crack at it and pointed out that the most logical cities were blue (e.g. NY, LA, Chigaco), he still thought it was not a problem.

His reasoning was thus. First, Iran would be much more likely to use a nuke on Israel and not the US. Given the evilness that is Israel (I'm paraphrasing him), that wouldn't be such a bad thing. Even if they used it on the US, we as a country could survive a 3 to 5 million killed in a US city fairly easily. But in either case we would then be free to use nukes back on Iran. And sense we would then be free to use nukes, it followed that Iran would never use the nuke.

The idea that a culture and religeon that could regularly produce suicide bombers might not be detered by a MAD policy didn't register with him. I was just demonizing what I don't know and all people want to live. Which of course brought me back to the suicide bombers.

Does Iran have an answer f... (Below threshold)
virgo:

Does Iran have an answer for why they chose to peacefully produce nuclear energy in fortified bunkers 100,s of feet underground to try and withstand bunker busting bombs ?
it makes no sense at all and sounds just like Russian cold war planning..

Of course Sy Hersch's revel... (Below threshold)
anthean:

Of course Sy Hersch's revelations are designed to intimidate the Iranians into rationality.

There is an old saying in game theory that you are more likely to win a game of chicken if you throw empty beer bottles out of your car.

As to Iran's ultimate ambitions once it obtains nuclear weapons, I believe their intent is to throw the US out of the Persian Gulf and secure it for themselves. (In the same sense the US feels a need to dominate the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans). They will throw the US out NOT by actual war, but rather by intimidating US allies that provide basing rights (Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain) with the truth that nuclear weapon useage would result in considerable collateral damage to these countries. Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain may logically conclude that US bases no longer protect them, but rather attract nuclear attack, and thus ask the US to leave. This is all very similar to choices the West Germans faced in the cold war--the expression back then was that German towns were "only two kilotons apart".

If Iran thus dominates the Persian Gulf (including the oil rich mini-states), this WILL have a significant impact on US energy supplies.

But Bush has already made t... (Below threshold)

But Bush has already made the very mistake you're concerned about; namely, he's already vowed that Iran will not be allowed to have nuclear weapons.

Since there's not a damned thing we can do about it, that's going to bite him in the ass.

JLawson -- Hersh mentions t... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

JLawson -- Hersh mentions the "over-the-shoulder" maneuver in his piece. That was my source.

J.

Ah, thank you! Had to do a... (Below threshold)

Ah, thank you! Had to do a search in the article...

The 'over-the-shoulder' maneuver was useful for sub-sonic aircraft, to allow for extra time to clear the area. About the only aircraft I could imagine being used that would need that would be the F-117. F-15s and F-16s, F-18s and F-22 could simply shove on the afterburner and boogie.

Unless you're looking for extra kinetic energy for a penetrator weapon - and then you could gain quite a bit by a toss like that.

Oh, I think we're in for some interesting times...

J.

I think definitely stick. A... (Below threshold)
OCSteve:

I think definitely stick. And the message is for more than just Iran.

The meme has been building both at home and internationally that our only military option for Iran is air strikes - the ground forces are overextended, blah blah blah. But most of that analysis draws the incorrect conclusion that air strikes alone would be ineffectual due to the equipment being dispersed in deep bunkers.

Both Iran and the international community have then arrived at the 'fact' that the US has no effective military option and so will not actually follow through with a military option.

This takes the pressure off Iran to negotiate seriously - and it takes the pressure off the international proxies conducting said negotiations to actually push for a negotiated settlement.

This was about saying to Iran and the world we do in fact have a damned big stick. We do have a way to handle this using only air strikes. This is exactly what this weapon was designed for.

BTW Ahmadinejad - you think you are batshit crazy - well we'll raise you there too.

As for the 'over-the-shoulder' maneuver - well a straight and level bombing profile could be anything. Your audience would never grok that you are simulating a nuclear delivery. But the old over-the shoulder toss is hard to mistake for anything else. We want to be absolutely clear that it is a nuclear delivery profile, not to be confused with something else.

Yes, I think it is a plant ... (Below threshold)
Frank:

Yes, I think it is a plant and a good one too. Make no mistake, Bush's low poll numbers is an extraordinary incentive in his twisted mind, to bomb Iran, and yes, just so his favorable poll numbers go up. Look at the latest Plame affair leaking by Bush..That was for the polls, a very revealing weakness he so denies he is sensitive to. "War president" is his wannabe legacy and he will get it. The Isralis will be ecstatic, the "oil bourse" will be ended, five dollar a gallon gas, and the world made even more dangerous. Diplomacy??Hell, we don't even talk to the Cubans. This guy is messianic, and made from the same cloth as Hitler, Stalin, and Napoleon. Heaven help the world!!

Frank, did your kool-aid ge... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

Frank, did your kool-aid get some mold on it?

Frank You are an abs... (Below threshold)
virgo:

Frank
You are an absolute nutcase are you related to Howard Dean ? Iran can and will be dealt with accordingly by this president.. so grimace and bear it..

Interesting reading on this... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Interesting reading on this topic:

We Are Not Going to Nuke Iran

Don't forget Pakistan, you ... (Below threshold)
Mullah Virgo:

Don't forget Pakistan, you right wing jackasses.

They are the ones who handed out nukes like christmas candy. What are you gonna do with them? Bomb them too?

Hey, wouldn't that be great? We can babysit 30 million Muslims in Iraq, 60 million more in Iran and 150 million in Pakistan.

You rightwing chickenshits talk about nuking Iran like it was the most noraml, easiest thing in the world? Jeez, this silly administration couldn't handle the post war planning in Iraq.

And this was in a country run by a knuckle head like Saddam! Only the Bush crowd could be so incompetent as to make Iraqis want Saddam back.

You people shouldn't even be allowed to drive motorized vehicles, let alone plan geo politics.

Hey nut case Mullah ... (Below threshold)
Babs:

Hey nut case Mullah

your on the wrong site, you need to go to Hugo Chavez,s blog, you south of the border nutjob.

Boobs -You must ei... (Below threshold)
Boobs:

Boobs -

You must either be Vir-go-away's sister-wife. I can tell because your command of English is as appaling as your husband's.

If you don't assimilate, you're going to have to leave. You can come with me to Venezuela. Me and Hugo will take turns throwing rotten tomatoes at you, while giving you grammar lessons.

So sorry mulah the muffdiv... (Below threshold)
virgo:

So sorry mulah the muffdiver, but i know understand piglatin.
You incredible boob.

The problem with the Bush a... (Below threshold)

The problem with the Bush administration is that it has let itself be defined by its enemies. The Democrats make some ridiculous accusation, the mainstream media reports it, and the administration does nothing to fight back.

One prominent Pulitzer Prize winning author (a big buddy of Seymour Hersh) wrote just a few weeks that we were on an economic precipice, losing the war in Iraq, and headed for disaster. The whole thing was a lie, but Bush does too little to fight these lies.

-Michael McCullough
Stingray:  a blog for salty Christians




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