Friday, June 16, 2006

Out of Curiosity

I was reading an interview with Hugh Hewitt of Peter Beinart, who is trying to save the proverbial soul of the Democratic Party. In any case, Hugh asked this:

HH: Assume that diplomacy fails, and assume that sanctions are tried and fail, and assume as well that the president, whether it's this president or his successor, believe on the absolute assurance of intelligence here and abroad that Iran is about to acquire nuclear weapons. Ought military force be used to interfere with and impede that acquisition?

I won't give you Peter's answer, although if you could conceivably look it up. But that is my question to the overwhelmingly liberal crowd here at Codemorse. This isn't a challenge, like, why don't you fight in Iraq, or something similarly inane. This is really just out of curiosity. Caveats are obviously allowed, otherwise the question is somewhat unfair.

Your thoughts?


At 11:16 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

In the tradition of my people I shall answer a question with a question. Why is it our job to stop people (if we can) from acquiring nukes? We have them and are the only ones so far to have actually used them. Granted that the people in question are cra-zazy, but if it were a unilateral us against the world situation I'd say no.

At 12:11 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

So, is the answer, yes, but only with a coalition?

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Yeah I think that sums it up.

At 3:20 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Hewitt's question seems sort of ludicriously loaded to me.

"Let's say that you see a man standing on a street corner. In his hand is a bloody knife. At his feet is the body of a young girl. There is blood all over his hands and clothing. He is yelling at her to stay down!.

Do you call the Police on him?"

Well, Jesus. Yes. Of course you do.

The problem is that the situation is rarely - if ever - that cut and dry and ready to be made into a Parker Bros. game.Look at Iraq for the latest example of why that's so.

This seems to me to be Version 2.0 of Krauthammer's Suitcase-full-of-explosives hypothetical:

Say there's a terrorist, and you've captured him, and you know for sure that he's planted a suitcase of C-4 somewhere big, important, and landmark-like (obviously excluding New York, according to Homeland Security's funding equation). You have exactly ONE HOUR TO FIND AND DIFFUSE THE BOMB. Do you torture him?

That's an exciting scenario, but it's also a pretty unrealistic one. Realistically speaking.

Here's a companion question to yours, for all the conservative playas in the house:

Where does this effort to keep America (and the world) safe end, exactly? At what point do you draw a line and say "this is not really my problem."

Because doesn't Korea have some Nukes we should worry about? What about China? Do they have nukes? Isn't there economy a massive threat to ours?

On a less flip note, and meant to dovetail into Scott's point, where do we get the manpower for these continued forays into global peacekeeping? Do we operate in coalitions?

And if we do, wht happens when other countries decide that a particular mission isn't worth fighting, ala Iraq? Do we go it alone again?

At 4:35 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Does that mean, yes?

At 4:36 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

I wanted to play the Korea card but I didn't. Of course they already HAVE nukes adn I suppose in theory it's easier to stop a three year old from getting a gun than it is to take a gun safely from that same three year old.

At 4:55 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

But is the point to be doing what's easier? Or what keeps us safe?

And let's extend the three-year old with a gun analogy, turning it into a vaguely Hewitt-ish question:

You have two three year-olds. One is actively holding and playing with a gun as you watch. One is staring at a gun that's laying on the table.

Who do you rush to first?

And yes, in answer to Hewitt's question. But the question itself is flawed.

In order to answer it realistically, you have to be willing to answer the questions I've posed to you.

At 12:58 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Actually, that question creates a false analogy, if it's going where I think it's going.

What would be a more accurate analogy is this:

Two three year olds (the use of children also makes this a false analogy but just to be consistent I'll continue it) are standing in front of you. Child A has a loaded gun pointed at you, and is willing to use it if you try and take it away. Child B is looking at the gun on the table.

Who do you rush to first?
Child B.

At 9:12 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Except that child A may use it even if you don't take it away.

At 10:05 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

And if Child B has the temperment of a dictator, that possibility is more than just a slight one.

It's a genuinely good, interesting question to me. If using a Child makes it a false analogy, let's switch it up. Two twitchy men, one with a God-complex (A), and one with...well...a God complex and a questionable moustache (B) are standing in front of you. One with the gun in hand. One looking into buying a gun at an undetermined, but potentially near, point in the future. You suspect that he may have gun parts, but have no way of knowing if he's begun to put a gun together.

In your scenario, it makes a certain amount of sense to go for Man B, because there's less immediate danger to yourself. But that leaves you with the much larger, more imminent problem still unsolved.

And while you've been dealing with Man B, Man A has found some armor piercing bullets. And a laser sight. And he's consciously incorporated them into his arsenal.

I don't think there's any good way to argue around Hewitt's question. Obviously, given that scenario, I'd advocate for some form of military intervention.

Only, the problem for me is that Hewitt's scenario is the Korea scenario, and it would seem as though you're arguing not to militarily intervene in that particular case.

Is that mistaken?

At 2:31 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

No, no, no. I must not be explaining myself well, because that is the whole point of my post:

Hewitt's scenario is not the North Korea scenario, because he's talking of imminence of obtaining those weapons, when military action is still a possibility. It is no longer a possibility with North Korea. They are not about to obtain nuclear weapons. They already have them. Thus the entire premise of what I've been saying. You simply cannot attack a country with nuclear capability. The damage they can inflict would be too great. The whole premise of mutually self-assured destruction is based on that alone.

With North Korea, we're just looking to run down the clock till the regime collapses entirely (and maybe China or South Korea steps in). Or hope that China steps up and does something before then. There are no other feasible options.

Hewitt's scenario is based on Iran. They don't have the weapons yet, but at some point, it will be imminent before they obtain them. As of now, they cannot inflict the same level of damage, death and destruction as the North Koreans because they do not have a nuclear weapon yet (as far as we know).


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