1. Anonymous says:

    The Iranian mullahs are sitting so pretty in all this. They may be annoyed that their own public regards Lebanon as not much their concern, but we and the Israelis are still doing some propaganda heavy lifting for them.

    The Iranian nuke program has been pushed right out of world attention. The mullahs obviously don’t want the program and their country to be on the receiving end of airstrikes, but how worried can they really be? Through their influence over the Iraqi Shia, they can make the US position in Iraq several circles of hell lower than it already is, to utterly untenable.

    I don’t know (does anyone really know?) how much direct influence – much less control – the Iranian mullahs have over Hezbollah. But Hezbollah is serving their interests, and they have no particular reason to rein it in even if they could.

    If you are an Iranian mullah, what better proof could there be that God is on your side than that He has sent you utter fools as enemies?

  2. Anonymous says:

    If you are an Iranian mullah, what better proof could there be that God is on your side than that He has sent you utter fools as enemies?

    How right you are. I’m wondering if even the Sunnis are beginning to believe that, that Allah is on the side of the Shiites.

  3. Anonymous says:


    I’m not a fan either. But if we lose her, then we lose any moderation on this administration, not to mention the vehicle for negotiation at the UN. I’ll take a shitty Condi over a Dick without Condi any day.

    I almost wrote a post today on, whether you were COndi and had been embarrassed as publicly as Israel just embarrassed you, whether you’d quit. If she can’t get Israel to stop bombing for 2 days, she’s just window dressing. But she’s not in a Powell position. She’s obviously mucking up the plans for empire to some degree. ANd if she quit, it wouldn’t have the same impact as if Colin Powell had quit on February 4, 2003.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Don’t forget the Chinese. They (and the Japanese) hold our debt. The dollar is ultimately going to fall because we can’t raise interest rates much more without causing a recession. Imports (including oil) will be more expensive. But China needs our markets, so they can’t let us fall too far. This is more of a long-term card, but it should not be forgotten.

    And Venezuela, where Chavez has made overtures to the iranians.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Great post emptywheel, organized, focussed, everything the TM doesn’t do. We need the Joint Chiefs to explain the facts of life, oil, to Rummy. No, I did not intend that as a joke, but I can understand why readers might laugh.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m beginning to toy with the idea that what we are seeing is the implementation of the real US ME policy.

    Perpetual turmoil.

    Why such a policy? Should the Israeli’s and Arabs embrace each other rather than kill each other it would be game, set and match for global domination for the next 100+ years. Not China. Not the EU. Not SE Asia or the US. The ME would be unstoppable.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ugh, reading Michael Ledeen is an impossible task for me. Thanks for doing it there so I don’t have to do it here.

    It has occurred to me that Condi is making deliberate doublecross moves. While she is in over her head, she at least seems to finally understand they’ve gone too far down the wrong road. Are she and Powell allies?

    I’m officially nervous.

  8. Anonymous says:

    From the Wall Street Journal, no charge to read it
    â€U.S., Israel Start to Diverge As Casualties Mountâ€
    Peres Says Several Weeks
    Needed to Crush Hezbollah;
    Rice Presses for Cease-Fire
    It’s the U.S. markets that should be screaming telling Bush, Rummy, and Cheney to cave.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Isreal is invading Lebanon and bombing Syria. Cease fire? The radical retired generals and intelligence officials who started this war are going to lose. It is already a lost war.

    I thought the Saudis owned America’s dollar?

  10. Anonymous says:

    While we’re at it, let’s threaten to free Cuba with Bush-style democracy. Rumsfeld can send in the Minutemen on the U.S. border and totally wreck the Cuban infrastructure in a day or so. And if that’s not enough, send in Caleb McCarry who was named as Cuba transition coordinator of which he says, â€My function is to be the senior U.S. official in charge of planning and supporting a genuine democratic transition in Cuba, and to work on it now.†(For more of McCarry’s unbelievable chutzpah, see The New Yorker, 31 July 2006, Letter from Cuba, Castro’s Last Battle, by Jon Lee Anderson. Wikipedia also has some [scary] facts on McCarry.)

  11. Anonymous says:

    I thought the Saudis owned America’s dollar?

    Nope, just GW’s heart. It’s China that holds the lion’s share of our debt, and they also have a big interest in acquiring Iranian oil.

    If the neocons succeed in their plans to nuke Iran, China and Russia are going to be very, very unhappy. Of course, that’s never stopped the neocons before, but now they’ll be facing adversaries who hold real cards.

    And I agree with emptywheel: As useless as she has been, Condi still has the ear of the Prez. That’s why Cheney and Rummy want her out. If she goes, stock up on canned goods, is all I’m sayin.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Sistani is the one who matters. One word from him and we’ll be forced to actually cut and run. At the moment, Sistani prefers for us to remain, but as Juan Cole has outlined, that can change quickly. Bush and crew have blundered themselves into a situation where one man holds their fate in his hands. I doubt they even realize that. They certainly don’t realize how effectively they’ve been played by Iran.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Good summary, EW. I haven’t been able to decide if Condi is acting, or truly a dupe. It probably doesn’t matter.
    Blair seems to offer his
    upon the big war to come. Hold on tight.

  14. Anonymous says:

    From First Read on Condi:

    Bloomberg casts the current Middle East conflict as the biggest challenge of Rice’s service: â€None of her earlier missions has been as prominent or risky as Lebanon, and a failure could impair her standing at home and abroad… Rice — who is usually spared the sharp criticism leveled at Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, especially for their handling of the Iraq war — has found herself on the receiving end of barbs.â€

    [Not usually spared by me. ;-)]

    But the Financial Times notes that while a â€growing number of moderate Republicans and former Bush administration officials are alarmed by what they call [Rice’s] ’uneven-handed diplomacy’ in the Middle East,†â€â€¦after months of disillusionment, America’s neo-conservatives have fallen in love again with the Bush administration.†The story points out that â€Mr Bush is largely insulated from a political backlash by the muted stance of the opposition Democrats, who are nervous of being painted as weak on national security in the build-up to mid-term elections in November.â€

  15. Anonymous says:

    Once again, we’re afraid of saying â€Boo†or, even smarter, â€What a fucked up counter-productive war Israel is waging, it doesn’t even help Israel keep itself safe.†And our fear will probably cost us a bunch of potential seats in what should otherwise be a good election year.

  16. Anonymous says:

    ew, I thought this was a really good response to your post, so I took the liberty of commenting it over here.
    Hugh @ 65

    John Casper from last thread but strangely on topic here.

    My take on emptywheel’s article is that it reflects the fact that the whole world outside of Israel and the Bush Administration oppose what Israel is doing in Lebanon and that opposition weakens us.

    Syria and Iran aren’t doing anything right now because they don’t have to. It’s not like they forced Israel to overreact in the violent and pointless way it has. Israel’s brutality and impotence are making all their points for them and they don’t have to do a thing.

    Regional allies like Saudi Arabia and Egypt are dismayed in public and infuriated in private. They don’t like Hezbollah and would not have minded Hezbollah being taught a lesson but Israel’s main target has not been Hezbollah but Lebanon. The wanton destruction there has forced them into the uncomfortable position of supporting a group they would rather oppose and underlines the wrongheadedness of the Bush Israeli approach.

    Europeans are also conflicted. The European public doesn’t like what Israel is doing in Lebanon. Most of the governments don’t either and those that disagree most strongly are precisely those who are expected to contribute most to any international force for the area. Sort of a how not to win friends and not influence people.

    So in brief there is a lot of anger, frustration, and some gloating over the mess the Israelis have created and that the US is condoning. The result is our standing in the world is further diminished, which is pretty amazing considering Iraq. Our relations not only with our allies but our opponents are complicated. We are perceived in the world not as a force for good but as a loose cannon. We may be powerful but we are not reliable. And being so, how can we expect to lead or for any to follow us? Bush talks a lot about spreading â€freedom†and â€democracy†throughout the Middle East but what he has had the most success in doing so far is in spreading hate of us.

    So when emptywheel talks about levers, I agree that there is pressure being put on this Administration and Rice may be feeling some of it, but Bush not so much and with the neocons? They relish the opportunity to tell the world to go f*ck itself.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Condi is being played for a chump and Powell is laughing his ass off.

    Innaresting post, ew.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I would like to see the rest of the world impose sanctions on the US until it suspends all military aid to Israel. An oil embargo by OPEC, a calling in of loans by China and other major exporters to the US, and a dumping of US equities by Europeans, Arabs and Asians. That should cause sufficient pain to make the US change some of its policies or start nuclear war.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Powerpuff, I like your thinking, but we owe everyone money. IMO, the Bush WH is betting the farm on their relationship with the Sunni Monarchy in Saudi Arabia. If the Shiites in Saudi Arabia who work the oil fields ever overthrew the monarchy or cut oil production, the U.S. economy would suffer an incredible jolt. I’m sure there are other scenarios, but at least for the moment our indebtedness is sheltering us from the consequences of the WH’s extreme recklessness.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Wow, Powerpuff – that is a scary fantasy. Much as I share your frustration and desire to see the Bush Administration disciplined and chastised, a U.S. embargo would hurt the whole world economy and leave everyone – not just Americans – worse off. In fact, most Americans don’t realize this but they could fall a long, long way and still be better off economically than most places in the world.

    One other lever for the list might be China’s vote on the UNSC. If they get too upset they may not go along with the future Security Council resolutions authorizing more war, threats, etc. agains Iran and who knows who else that the Bush people are probably already drafting.

  21. Anonymous says:


    That may not be enough, though. It’s not like we got the permission of the UN before we went into Iraq.

    IMO we’ll begin to see more of what we’ve seen from Putin–sending oil contracts preferentially to others in a clear snub of the US. It’ll begin to hurt our economy, and eventually the corporations will either get rid of the Republicans or leave the country.

    But I’m not ruling out something like a few day oil boycott to send the US a lesson.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I agree with you – I’ve been expecting to see gradual shifts away from foreign central bank purchases of U.S. securities for some time. Gradual, because they have their own economic issues to manage. Even a gradual shift away from buying our debt could have a substantial effect here – especially coupled with oil prices.

    Re the oil boycott for a few days – it could be salutary in waking people up, but I don’t think OPEC is sufficiently united and robust to pull it off. Iran, however, could achieve something similar just by cutting back – and if we keep pressing them, they may resort to it.

    I keep expecting the roof to fall in in Saudi Arabia, too, with totally unpredictable outcomes for us and the world.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Oil is traded in a global market, so even if the U.S. does not directly get oil from Iran, any significant decrease in supply for any length of time can send prices soaring. Not the same as an embargo in the sense of targeting the supply/price pain on one or a selected group of countries, but the U.S. would certainly feel the pain along with the rest of the world. And with our economy slowing down, and being as relatively petroleum dependent as the U.S. is, it could have a very significant political as well as economic impact.

  24. Anonymous says:

    It is possible that if OPEC decided to reduce production until Israel gets out of Lebanon they might actually see a increase in their revenue.


  25. Anonymous says:

    An embargo a la 1973 would hit the US economy like a cannonball. It’s been considered the most-likely response by Iran if Bush started bombing there.

    The one thing that reassured people was that the rest of the world depended on US consumerism to fuel their own economies, and therefore the rest of the world would put enough pressure on the US to head off any unilateral military action.

    Now, we’re seeing something else. No, not that Israel is acting as the US proxy and providing cover for an attack on Iran or Syria. I actually doubt Israel has any such thing in mind, because it would be the front line for blowback – and that was before the IDF and IAF failed to deliver a quick knock-out to Hezbollah. Israel has got to be even less willing than it already was to somehow draw Iran and Syria into the conflict.

    No, the something else is that the world is doing exactly what many of us thought it would, faced with the Bush Admin’s continuing ruinous fecklessness: it’s figuring out ways to act without US leadership, and around US influence. Having isolated itself by refusing to negotiate or even talk to other countries, the Bush Admin is relegating the US to second- or even third-tier status.

  26. Anonymous says:

    EW laid out most of the parties very well, except for China, Venezuela etc, which others have filled in. It seems that everyone else is being very cautious not to ruin the US economy–everyone but us. We are the loose cannon, the out-of-control paranoids here. How long can we rely on the kindness of strangers? I just can’t see the markets remaining high, except for the oil market. And then it really comes unglued.

  27. Anonymous says:

    â€Sistani is the one who matters. One word from him and we’ll be forced to actually cut and run.â€

    more like ’ stand and surrender ’.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Will Bush, Gonzales, Cheney, Addington, Yoo et al get away with it?

    The pilot and Vietnam POW – a staunch Republican – who pushed through the War Crimes Act of 1996 is appalled that the Bush administration, facing possible prosecution for war crimes, is devising a legal escape hatch.

    Retired Navy pilot Mike Cronin spent six years enduring interrogations in the Hanoi Hilton.

    In fact, from the early days of the war on terror, the Bush administration was concerned about the War Crimes Act. Publicly released memos show that as far back as Jan. 25, 2002, Gonzales, then the White House counsel, worried that the president’s policies could trigger prosecution under the act. That led the White House to declare, over the objection of the State Department, that al-Qaida was not protected by the conventions. In the memo, Gonzales argued that the president could create â€a solid defense against any future prosecution†by declaring that the Geneva Conventions did not apply.

    But with the Supreme Court ruling, that defense no longer stands, leaving the administration in a legally vulnerable position. At a recent congressional hearing, Maj. Gen. Jack L. Rives, the Air Force judge advocate, testified that â€some techniques that have been authorized†violated the Geneva Conventions. To preempt any prosecution, administration officials are now quietly circulating legislation to change the statutory interpretation of the War Crimes Act of 1996. In short, the legislation would make it difficult to prosecute U.S. personnel for the harsh interrogation methods authorized by President Bush and the Justice Department.

    Cronin, an active Republican, sees the proposed changes, which have not yet been spelled out publicly, as an attempt by the civilian leadership to cover its tracks. â€These guys are talking about trying to protect soldiers in the field. I think they are lying through their teeth,†Cronin said. â€They are talking about trying to protect themselves.â€

    â€What the administration is afraid of is that someday, presumably in a Hillary Clinton administration, Justice Department investigators will go back to 2002 and 2003, when the CIA was interrogating senior leaders of al-Qaida with guidelines from the Justice Department and the White House,†said Tom Malinowski, advocacy director of Human Rights Watch. He said the effort to change the interpretation of the War Crimes Act is focused on protecting those outside the military chain of command who may have committed war crimes or ordered war crimes to be committed. â€If I were in the armed forces,†Malinowski said, â€I would be worried that the administration is selling out the armed forces for the CIA.â€

    â€They want retroactive immunity,†said Mary Ellen O’Connell, a professor of international law at Notre Dame, who has been critical of the Bush administration’s detention policies. â€Have you known of any other time in our history when we have tried to immunize public officials against crimes after they have committed the crimes?â€

    The Bush administration, Cronin said, is simply unaware of the realities of war. â€The vast majority of them never served a day in the military, even though almost all of them were of military age at the time of the Vietnam War,†Cronin said. â€The opposition to the administration’s policy of detainment has come, to their great credit, entirely from the professional military.â€

    Cronin, on the other hand, has been there. He is a victim of war crimes. And, as it stands, he no longer believes that the president and his aides have the nation’s best interests at heart. â€From day one,†he said, â€the total motivation of these people seems to have been, How can we protect ourselves?â€

  29. Anonymous says:

    I would prefer the strong make concessions to the weak, but the strong ony want to use their power to obtain more power. Those who are neither weak or strong need to come together and provide a united front against the US with economic and political sanctions in order to stop the suffering of the weak.

  30. Anonymous says:

    But there’s something I don’t understand; please help me out. Israel is getting bogged down in Lebanon, the French have so far refused to even talk about sending in troops, and the U.S. is pretty much incapable of sending in troops. Everybody in the world wants the U.S. to â€do something†to stop this. On our side, the neocons and the right-wing pundits have started calling, almost literally, for genocide, you know, kill them there so we won’t have to kill them here.

    And the President is clearing brush at his ranch.

    Why hasn’t somebody *cheneycough* pushed the nuclear button? Seriously, what are they waiting for? I’m not being sarcastic here; the Bush administration has been strongly hinting at war with Iran since the spring. They know they haven’t got the troops, but they have air power and bunker-busters.

    My question is, who is restraining themselves, or is being restrained, and for what reasons?