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April 25, 2006

How Far Do You Trust Them?

Are you OK with Iran having nuclear technology? Do you believe that they'll act responsibly with it?

If so, does this modify your attitude?

The remarks on sharing nuclear technology by Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, came as he met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

"Iran's nuclear capability is one example of various scientific capabilities in the country. ... The Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to transfer the experience, knowledge and technology of its scientists," Khamenei told al-Bashir.

Al-Bashir said last month that his impoverished, wartorn country was considering trying to create a nuclear program to generate electrical power.

Such a transfer of technology would be legal as long as it is between signatory-states to the nonproliferation treaty, and as long as the IAEA was informed.

But do you think that Iran, on an IAEA-dissing binge lately, breaking their current treaties, and considering leaving the Nonproliferation Treaty, will care whether or not such a transfer would be legal? All of a sudden, trusting Iran means trusting by extension anyone they might deem worthy of nukes.

Posted by Doug at April 25, 2006 01:15 PM

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Like you care about treaties, international law and the United Nations. Really, Doug— this I gotta hear. Just why on Earth do you think Iran, the United States or anybody, for that matter, should care about international law?

Posted by: s9 at April 25, 2006 08:12 PM

By raising a question in misdirection while not answering mine, I take it that you do trust Iran to do the right thing.

Posted by: Doug Payton at April 25, 2006 09:41 PM

The United States and Europe are threatening Iran with economical sanctions. But Iran is not the only country owning nuclear power, the United States as well as other countries in Europe own it. In the Middle East, Israel threatens all neighborhood countries lacking the nuclear power.
On the other hand, the Iranian government has announced that they are using nuclear power for peaceful purposes and to generate electricity, and that their legislations prohibit the militant usage of destructive weapons; but Washington accuses Iran of seizing to own destructive weapons, and hiding their intentions behind peaceful programs.

The movement against Iran is expected to rise after the Iranian announcement that Israel must be erased from the world map. Can Iran stand against the international challenges? And if the western countries decided to impose economical sanctions against it, will Iran use the weapon of Petrol? Will we watch the same Iraqi scenario in Iran? Is Iran ready to face the public opinion and the destructive results of the economical sanctions? Can Iran control the situation? Does the Iranian nuclear power create a source of danger for the surrounding countries? Does Iran really own a nuclear power, or it’s just pretending to have it?

Posted by: at April 25, 2006 10:38 PM

Doug Payton writes: By raising a question in misdirection while not answering mine, I take it that you do trust Iran to do the right thing.

I'm sorry. Was that question directed at me, personally? I didn't see my pseudonym mentioned. Besides that, you're already a few points behind on the "answering question for a question" thing already, Doug. If answering your direct questions to me made you feel inclined to answer my direct questions to you, then I'd be more sympathetic. Alas.

p.s. I don't see any particular reason to believe that Iran is any more likely to violate the NPT than the United States. They don't seem to have any incentive to do so that I can see, (less than the U.S. does, in fact) though, I will accept the argument that they might have one eventually if Iraq forks its Shi'ite southern provinces into an independent state with an alignment to Iran, as seems quite likely.

Now, will you answer my question?

Posted by: s9 at April 26, 2006 03:16 PM

I don't particularly trust Iran to have nuclear weapons. Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Britain, the US, Bob over in Montana... I don't trust any of them.

That whole "fallen humanity" stuff makes the notion of entrusting weapons that can destroy the earth in any human's hand a daunting notion.

And I'm curious, too, why Iran should obey international treaties when we've already said that it's okay not to... I mean, according to many, the UN is a joke and not to be heeded, the ICC is fine for other countries and treaties are only for us when they're to our benefit, right?

Posted by: Dan Trabue at April 26, 2006 04:32 PM

s9: This post asked a direct question. You commented without even a cursory nod to the question. That's called "thread-jacking". I'm trying to nip those kinds of things in the bud these days.

I've ignored questions from you before because I know the answer means nothing to you. In some cases, when I have answered the question, you changed the question on the fly. I refer to one comment thread in particular. You argued against Judge John Roberts because he filed a motion in an abortion clinic bombing case. You portrayed this as downright evil.

Roberts did, in fact, file briefs and argued in the Supreme Court in favor of violent extremist groups and someone who had been, in fact, convicted of conspiracy to bomb clinics, illegal possession of explosives, and who wrote a fscking book in which he offered his justifying rationale for murdering clinic doctors and staff.

Doesn't sound neutral, does it? Sounds like an attack against his values and actions, even more so with the rest of your comments in that thread. But when you were reminded that other lawyers have represented bad guys, like those handling the Gitmo cases, you turned the whole "represent the bad guy" motif on its head and changed the subject to the conditions of their incarceration
And yes, I do think that lawyers who argue in the defense of detainees, at Guantanamo and elsewhere, who are accused of being unlawful combatants, are providing support and assistance to people accused of being unlawful combatants. Apparently, you think all people accused of being unlawful combatants by the same people who accused Saddam Hussein, without any compelling evidence and against the advice of countless experts, of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction are, ipso facto, terrorists.

All of a sudden, these lawyers are simply providing assistance to those who need it, and you find no need to itemize unsavory events in the history of the defendants they represent. Instead you quickly change the subject. Yell "WMDs!" and hope no one notices the somersault you just did. It was this exchange that convinced me not to take you as seriously as I had done. Granted, I've been sucked in a few other times, but as you have apparently noticed, I don't generally try to discuss things with you anymore.

In the case of your current question to me, you assume facts not in evidence and that are in fact false (that I don't care at all about international treaties). So there really is no basis on which to answer it. In the meantime, I have to extrapolate from your response that you indeed do trust Iran to keep nuclear technology to itself. Well, except in the case where they wouldn't. Clear as crystal. And this in spite of their words suggesting that they'll pass it on to whoever they want, understanding, as I would hope you do, that the Shi'ites in southern Iraq aren't nearly the only folks they have common cause with (i.e. anyone else who hates Israel). Apparently, dealing with the post's main question ("Does this modify your attitude?"), the answer for you is "No". You're just fine having nuclear technology spread at will around the Middle East to countries with overblown resentment of one of our nearby allies. Thanks for your answer.

Posted by: Doug Payton at April 26, 2006 04:55 PM

Dan: When we sign treaties, we ought to abide by them. We did far better with UN sanctions against Iraq than many other countries did. The UN is a joke, but we generally play by the rules, even if that means 14 "last chances" for the bad guys. The ICC looks to be just another opportunity for anti-American actions as the UN is; no need to get entangled in that. But we're not breaking anything there; you can't break a "treaty", if you want to call it that, that you're not a party to.

You don't trust anyone with nukes, but you're willing to let Iran have 'em, or at least not try to stop them if diplomacy fails. I can't buy into that, but I understand why you think it.

Posted by: Doug Payton at April 26, 2006 06:16 PM

p1. Nuclear technology is God's gift to all humanity, as I'm sure you would be quick to agree. You simply feel the need to deprive the Iranian people of the benefits of operating their own nuclear power plants because you're wetting the bed in fear from the twin ridiculous notions that they might A) leverage their nuclear power plants into A-bomb factories without anyone realizing it, and B) [here's the truly wacky part] hand over fully-armed nuclear warheads to Hezbollah, presumably for use on Israel, when they have their own perfectly good medium-range missiles to use instead. Why you think Israel's nuclear defense posture should be any more of our business than— say, France's— remains an open mystery, too.

p2. You still haven't answered the question about why you think Iran, the United States or anybody, for that matter, should care about international law. I haven't assumed you don't. I've just not been willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you do. You've shown yourself to be an apologist for D. James Kennedy, a known theocratic dominionist, and for that reason alone, there is good reason to believe you recognize no authority in treaties and international law. Your ongoing nonchalance about the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is cause for a lot of my pessimism on this point as well.

p3. I did not argue against Judge John Roberts because he filed a motion in an abortion clinic bombing case, and I did not describe this as "downright evil" in the thread you reference. A cursory read of that thread will show that I was attacking the credibility of FactCheck.Org, to whom you approvingly linked. I don't remember expressing my arguments against confirming Justice Roberts here— mainly because you didn't ask for them.

p4. For the record, I argued that Democrats shouldn't mount any serious effort to oppose either Roberts or Scalito. My arguments against going to the mattresses on Roberts have been purged from Haloscan, where I made them, but you can see the followup I did on Scalito here. You assumed I held a different view, didn't you, Doug? You should stop doing that. I am not your monkey.

Posted by: s9 at April 26, 2006 09:15 PM

* Again I say it's not the Iranian people that cause me concern, it's their rulers that are the problem. Not just the President, but the whole kit and kaboodle, have talked about destroying Israel many, many times, and are now going back on their nuclear agreements. Agreements that, by the way, allow for peaceful nuclear power as long as the process can be properly monitored. That Iran is deciding to work outside that framework ought to be cause for concern.

* France isn't surrounded by countries bent on its total destruction. Israel, you may recall, is. (Although there is late-breaking news that Iran is now a virtual neighbor of France, too. This out to be cause for concern as well.)

* Hezbollah provides a measure of distance for Iran from acts done by them. A missile rising up from the Iranian desert doesn't. Have we yet done anything substantial to Iran--sanctions, anything--based on Hezbollah killings? Has whatever we have done caused Hezbollah to stop? No.

* I've said pretty plainly why I haven't answered it; the premise is false. And yet, below, I will correct the premise and answer your question.

* How wanting to spread the Gospel so that it influences the actions of people makes me want to ignore any worldly authority does not make sense in the least. Jesus, who wants us to go into all the world with His message also said to give to Caesar what is Caesar's; abiding by the laws of the land. Your Kennedy quote in the other thread is, as I noted there, simply a restatement of the Christian imperative to seek to bring God's influence to all the world; all parts of it. Connecting that to some sort of desire to ignore agreements that we signed is an incredible non sequitur.

* And this coming from a guy who hasn't yet shown any concern that Iran is flagrantly disregarding treaties they signed, and appealing on behalf of their people to allow it.

* The abuses at Abu Graib have been, and are being, prosecuted. I'm in full agreement with that. Again, your premise is totally without foundation. On the other hand, some critics of the President have considered wearing underwear on the head or other minor acts of humiliation "torture". It is that devaluing of the meaning that I object to, especially when vague definitions that would include those things are attempted to be passed in Congress and given that weight. You conflate disagreements on the definition with a wish to ignore a treaty. Another non sequitur.

* Yes, the main issue was your disagreement with, but in doing so you not only tried to buttress NARAL's invalid contentions, you gave them extra weight in the quote above. At the same time, you minimized the same actions by guys you approved of. I'm going to let your statements speak for themselves.

* Whether or not Democrats should actively oppose Roberts was never a part of the conversation then or now. Another non sequitur.

* And this coming from a guy who accuses me of making assumptions.

This is why you'll see fewer responses from me. Regardless of the value of the questions you may raise, discussion is virtually impossible.

Posted by: Doug Payton at April 27, 2006 09:32 AM

p1. On the subject of Iranian "threats" to destroy Israel, these are just about as convincing as George W. Bush's declaration that the United States is waging a "crusade" in Iraq. It's mere bluster intended to throw red meat to their wingnut political base. In point of fact, they are not presenting any kind of threatening posture toward Israel.

p2. Iran is not in flagrant violation of the NPT. They have merely reneged on voluntary commitments made to the IAEA regarding inspections of their nuclear facilities.

p3. If Iran is serious about nuking Israel, using Hezbollah as a proxy will not shield them from Israeli reprisals. Everyone knows this. Why don't you?

p4. The United States is in flagrant violation of the Convention Against Torture, and prosecuting the rank and file Joes for the crimes committed in Abu Graib does not relieve the U.S. of its responsibility under the terms of the treaty to take active measures to prevent torture and degrading treatment. The U.S. signed this treaty, and you are on record approving of its continued violation by the refusal to take active measures to prevent torture and degrading treatment. So, you'll forgive me if I don't think you take seriously the need to obey international laws. The U.S. is also in violation of the United Nations Charter, by waging preventative war on Iraq and by public adopting a policy of preventative war as its primary defense posture. I note you have no words of criticism for this violation of international law as well. Yet, your panties are twisted into a six-dimensional knot over Iran reneging on voluntary arrangements to let IAEA inspect for violations of the NPT. You clearly have a double standard, one you apply to Muslims, and the other you apply to presumed Christians and Jews.

p4. Actually, I took pains to clarify that I wasn't defending NARAL in that thread. Go look for yourself. My whole criticism was that you shouldn't be looking to FactCheck.Org if you want to make a convincing argument. They are a corrupt source. Full stop. Now, somehow, you have decided that I'm being inconsistent with my arguments when I contend that defending abortion clinic bombers and defending so-called "enemy combatants" at Gitmo both amount to providing support and assistance to militant extremists. Huh?

p5. I really don't care whether you respond to my questions. The asking is more important than the answering. Of course, you could take active measures to prevent me from posting comments. It must be quite tempting, no? It would be so easy to keep your readers from seeing critical views of your posts. What would Mohammed, peace be unto his name, do?

Posted by: s9 at April 27, 2006 02:24 PM

You may not appreciate the list or the source, but a few of the international treaties (besides the torture ones) that Bush has violated can be found here:

Posted by: Dan Trabue at April 28, 2006 01:37 PM

"You don't trust anyone with nukes, but you're willing to let Iran have 'em, or at least not try to stop them if diplomacy fails."

Just a clarifying point (one that I've tried clarifying before but will do again): Just because I don't believe Jesus would use - or have us use - deadly force to try to force our wishes on other countries does not mean that I'm opposed to trying to stop them.

I think Jesus and the Bible and history all offer profound examples of pushing for justice and against violence without using violence to do so.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at April 28, 2006 01:44 PM

When it's seriously suggested that every single Congressman that voted for the use of force against Iraq should be brought up on charges, I'll consider that this impeachment thing isn't just a partisan maneuver.

And when the UN (quoting resolution 1441 [link is a PDF]) succinctly defines what "authorized Member States to use all necessary means to uphold and implement its resolution", then we have something to talk about. I mean, the Oil-for-Palaces program wasn't going to (quoting again) "restore international peace and security in the area", and hopefully when they "repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations", they didn't mean that another strongly worded report was a "serious consequence".

All these euphamisms for...what exactly? Seems that 12 years of resolutions (see the beginning of the resolution) hadn't done much of anything except enrich Hussein and those countries dealing with him under the table. And the web site you note is so upset about the UN Charter, ignoring those euphamisms for the final "serious consequence"; the use of force after exhausting over a decade of diplomacy and (what was supposed to be) humanitarian aid.

No, I don't give that web page much credibility. It's purely political and ignores the parts of the picture that don't fit its narrative. That's not to say I'm guilt-free of that myself, but that page really picks and chooses its history.

Posted by: Doug Payton at April 28, 2006 02:14 PM

Dan, I appreciate your clarification, but it sounds like you just restated what I said. If diplomacy fails (i.e. non-violent means fail to work or time runs out while non-violent means are being pursued), you seem to be resigned (if not perhaps "willing" per se) to let Iran have nukes.

Posted by: Doug Payton at April 28, 2006 02:19 PM

Non-violent resistence is not contained within "diplomacy," although it may include diplomacy. That was my point. Non-violent resistence can include isolation of the offending party, economic sanctions, peer pressure, a physical presence, etc.

Some of these are not the same to me as pure diplomacy, which is defined as "practice of conducting international relations, as in negotiating alliances, treaties, and agreements."

But if you're including all non-violent actions to address a rogue regime as "diplomacy," then perhaps I was repeating myself in your way of thinking.

As to being resigned to "letting" other nations do the same things that we do...I don't know that is the case. I will continue to stand opposed to the US AND Iran having weapons, not resigned to it at all.

I'm willing to acknowledge that sovreign nations - including my own - will make their decisions whether I like it or not, but I'm not resigned to it.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at April 29, 2006 12:05 PM