A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


Is "craziness" contagious?

The lead paragraph from today's infamous NYTimes:

Like Mohamed ElBaradei, we want to make sure what he calls the crazies dont start a war with
Iran/>/>. We fear his do-it-yourself diplomacy is playing right into the crazies hands in Washington/> and Tehran.  Read the rest:


About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



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Reagrdless of the views of Mr. ElBaradei or the NY Times (neither of which is necessarily concerned with what is best for the United States) ... it is not crazy to be concerned about Iran obtaining nuclear weapons nor is it crazy to suspect that if Iran gains such weapons that either Israel or the United States could be a target (not of an attack by Iran itself but by some proxy group for Iran which would recieve the nuclear weapon from Iran) ... it is not crazy to suspect that a government that public denies the holocaust, publicly denies the existance of gay Iranians whom it privately executes, publicly decalres that iranian woman (who are being rounded up, beaten, and jailed for "immodesty") are the most "free" in the world, etc., etc., is probably not a government that will listen to reason or negotiate in good faith ... and therefore it is certainly not crazy to conclude that force (i.e., bombing or even outright war) might ultimately be the only thing that can prevent Iran from obtaining or using (by proxy) nuclear weapons. Such force should not be the only thing that it is tried, it should not be the first thing that it is tried, but it must remain an option. Anything else would be ... crazy.

I find it hard to tell what's going on. On the one hand, we have pugnacious braggarts in leadership positions in both nations. On the other, my impression is that neither Bush not the president of Iran is the brains behind their respective operations. It pretty much stands to reason that they wouldnt be when you listen to them talk.Cheney and other higher ups in the administration had their reasons for invading Iraq. They must have their reasons for the saber rattling and/or real preparation for war with Iran too.Paul -

First of all when almost everybody believes it is a bad idea for the President of Iran to visit Columbia, civilization is in trouble. What happened to engagement? We CANNOT compare Iran's president with Hitler. He would know that Iran would be finished if it gave nuclear arms to terrorists.As much as I have problems with the Israelis, they did tell Washington that it had no chance to win the war if it did not secure the borders. Our negotiations with Iran adds another disaster to our incompetent administration. The same crew did negotiate with the Iranians when they did not want the hostages released until the Presidential election when Reagan ran for the first time.Korea is not threatened because it has nuclear weapons. The Iranian president tried to raise the Israeli question. In fact many Jews realize that it was a mistake to take over the land from the Palestinians in 1948. Carter is trying to prod Israel to be more responsive.Unfortunately, crazies are on both sides as the invasion of Iraq has shown. Sad that in this most important moment in our history we have the worst president.

The crazies are the ones (Administration and simpy wimpy Democrats in both house of Congress) who will decide that the US will invade Iran without (1) adequate troop strength, (2) adequate military equipment, (3) adequate support from the nations with the most political, economic and military clout, and (3) the financial wherewithal to lauch such a war.Iran has a real army (reputed to be about 2mm under arms), not a shadow force that was found in Iraq. I would not be surprised to see the "coalition of the willing" that goes into Iran with guns blazing to have it's butt kicked quite hard. Is the US ready for that? Oh, I forget: we can nuke the SOBs out of existence once we can't defeat them any other way.Way to go, USA.

A credible case can be made that a precision cruise missile strike (against certain facilities) would set the Iranian nuclear program back a decade or so. But there are obvious problems:1) Kicking the can down the road is not a permanent solution. 2) The Iranian response could be bad for Israel.3) If this is done under a Democratic administration, that party's left base will likely go crazy.Still, in an imperfect world, one has to go for the best option at hand.

I think the Persians have dispersed their sites and buried many of them deeply enough that cruise missiles won't cut it.Also, unlike the Iraqi response to the Israeli attack of their nuclear base in Osirak in 1981, we could expect Iran to declare war on us and attack the several hundred thousand troops conveniently stationed next door.So no surgical strikes here.

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