Let’s look at ourselves in the mirror created by the conflict with Iran
Summary: Knowledge is power, including knowledge about ourselves. One way to gain it is by looking at ourselves, what our leaders say, as others do — foreigners in our world, and the foreigners that will be our descendents. Here will look at some statements about Iran, and some perspectives provided by fiction. This is chapter 15 in a series about our conflict with Iran; at the end are links to other chapters.
Some advice about how to win the war with Iran.
— Advice inscribed upon the temple of the Oracle at Delphi
“Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War
“To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. Hardly less important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves.”
— Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), The Doors of Perception (1954)
- Look at America as our grandkids will see us
- Everybody fighting Iran is on our side
- There is a solution
- Other posts in this series about our conflict with Iran
- For more information: advice from the past and the future
(1) Look at America as our grandkids will see us
In their enthusiasm for war with Iran the people shown below forgot to mention that bombing Iran would violate the UN Charter, one of the great results of WWII — for which the US labored so long and hard. They forgot to mention the dead bystanders. They don’t mention the consequences if Iran strikes back — as is their right — to our armed attacks.
(a) The voice of lawless ignorant jingoistic bloodlust: John McCain
McCain explains that bombing other nations, assuming they cannot hit us back, is funny. When campaigning for President at the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina on 17 April 2007: Asked by someone in the audience if as President he would bomb Iran, he began by giving new words to the Beach Boys song “Barbara Ann”: “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran”. His handlers explained:
McCain campaign spokesman Kevin McLaughlin points out that the Senator’s song was not serious and the people in the room were laughing. “He was just trying to add a little humor to the event.” ABC News
(b) The voice of lawless ignorant jingoistic bloodlust: Rick Santorum
Santorum (supposedly the favorite of some calling themselves “evangelicals”) channels Jesus when campaigning for the Presidency in Greenville, South Carolina on 25 October 2011:
“On occasion scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran turn up dead. I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly.”
(c) The voice of lawless ignorant jingoistic bloodlust: Editors of the New York Post
“Bomb, bomb Iran“, Editorial of The New York Post, 15 January 2012 — They forget that assassinating civilians is terrorism.
A motorcycle throttle was probably the last sound Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan ever heard, as two men on a bike attached a magnetic bomb to his car in Tehran last week. A director at the Natanz uranium-enrichment facility — Iran’s largest — Roshan was caught in traffic when unknown assassins did him in. Vroom, vroom — then boom.
But Roshan is only the latest atomic scientist to be atomized. Back in November 2010, men on motorcycles attached bombs to two cars in Tehran, killing one nuke engineer and injuring a physicist. And last November a huge blast killed 30 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, including a senior general believed to be the architect of Iran’s missile program. Later that month, a massive blast was reported — and then covered up — at the uranium-conversion facility in Isfahan
… Still, whoever’s behind it, we certainly hope they keep it up. If Iran’s nuclear scientists are learning to fear the sound of a gunning motorcycle, all to the good. And if they’re beginning to look for new lines of work, even better.
(2) Everybody fighting with Iran is on our side
Not all wars are sacred, or even self-defense. From “With the sword he must be slain” by David Drake (1998):
The colonel had never met this tasking officer, but he was a Suit and the Colonel figured all Suits were the same. The fact that this particular Suit was part of Hell’s bureaucracy rather than Langley’s didn’t make a lot of difference.
“Good to see you, Colonel,” the Suit said as he studied the folder in front of him. “Please sit down.” He didn’t get up from behind his desk, and he didn’t offer to shake hands. Probably afraid he’d transfer sweat to the fine wool/silk blend of his garment. … There was a look of disdain in his eyes. …
When the Colonel figured out who his employer was, he didn’t much like it. But neither did the knowledge make any real difference in what the Colonel did or how well he did it. … The Colonel paused before touching the doorknob and looked back, angry enough to say “Does it both you to be working for the losing side?”
“I beg your pardon?” the suit said. He looked genuinely puzzled.
“This is the battle of Good against Evil” the Colonel said. “Evil loses, right?
The Suit’s smile hardened. “You’re quite wrong. Good doesn’t defeat you.” The Suit shook his head. “The Bible doesn’t say the armies of Good will defeat you,” the Suit said, giving the pronoun a slight emphasis. “Good doesn’t have armies, Colonel. Everyone who’s fighting is on our side. You of all people should understand that.”
(3) There is a solution
Wars tend to have unexpectedly large costs and unexpectedly poor “returns”. Yet we love them so. Fortunately there is a solution. We can decide to avoid unnecessary wars (eg, occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq), and make stronger efforts to avoid those that look necessary — as described in “A Taste of Armageddon“, an episode of the original Star Trek, original broadcast on 23 February 1967:
ANAN (leader of the planet Eminiar Seven): You realise what you have done?
KIRK: Yes, I do. I’ve given you back the horrors of war. The Vendikans now assume that you’ve broken your agreement and that you’re preparing to wage real war with real weapons. They’ll want do the same. Only the next attack they launch will do a lot more than count up numbers in a computer. They’ll destroy cities, devastate your planet. You of course will want to retaliate. If I were you, I’d start making bombs. Yes, Councilman, you have a real war on your hands. You can either wage it with real weapons, or you might consider an alternative. Put an end to it. Make peace.
ANAN: There can be no peace. Don’t you see? We’ve admitted it to ourselves. We’re a killer species. It’s instinctive. It’s the same with you. Your General Order Twenty Four.
KIRK: All right. It’s instinctive. But the instinct can be fought. We’re human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands, but we can stop it. We can admit that we’re killers, but we’re not going to kill today. That’s all it takes. Knowing that we won’t kill today.
(4) Other posts in this series about our conflict with Iran
- Is the War on Terror over (because there are no longer two sides)?, 3 September 2008 — Rumors of covert ops by us against Iran, including aid to terrorists
- Iran’s getting the bomb, or so we’re told. Can they fool us twice?, 16 January 2009
- Iran will have the bomb in 5 years (again), 2 January 2010 — Forecasts of an Iranian bomb really soon, going back to 1984
- About the escalating conflict with Iran (not *yet* open war), 4 January 2012
- Have Iran’s leaders vowed to destroy Israel?, 5 January 2012 — No, but it’s established as fact by repetition
- What do we know about Iran’s nuclear ambitions?, 6 January 2012 — US intelligence officials are clear: not as much as the news media implies
- What does the IAEA know about Iran’s nuclear program?, 9 January 2012 — Their reports bear little resemblance to reports in the news media
- What happens when a nation gets nukes? Sixty years of history suggests an answer., 10 January 2012
- What happens if Iran gets nukes? Not what we’ve been told., 11 January 2012
- Status report on the already-hot conflict with Iran – and the looming war, 12 January 2012
- Continuity and dysfunctionality in US foreign policy (lessons for our conflict with Iran), 13 January 2012 — Insights about today from Cold War strategist Colin Grey
- What the conflict with Iran teaches us about modern State-to-State war, 16 January 2012
- Has Iran won a round vs. the US-Israel?, 17 January 2012
- Is Killing Iranian Nuclear Scientists Terrorism?, 19 January 2012 — By Kevin Jon Heller (Senior Lecturer at Melbourne Law School)
- Let’s look at ourselves in the mirror created by the conflict with Iran, 20 January 2012
(5) For more information
Lessons and even advice from the past — and notes from the future
- Our futures seen in snippets of the past, 16 June 2008
- America’s grand strategy: lessons from our past, 30 June 2008
- President Grant warns us about the dangers of national hubris, 1 July 2008
- Let’s look at America in the mirror, the first step to reform, 14 August 2008
- The King of Brobdingnag comments on America’s grand strategy, 18 November 2008
- A warning from Alexis De Tocqueville about our military, 7 August 2009
- Another note from our past, helping us see our future, 16 September 2009 — by Daniel Ellsberg
- A note from America’s diary: “My power proceeds from my reputation…”, 22 September 2009
- Seeing today through the eyes of a future historian, 25 September 2009
- A look at America from a superior perspective: the future, 24 October 2010
- A warning from the past. Might the American Empire drag down America?, 4 August 2011
- Advice from one of the British Empire’s greatest Foreign Ministers, 18 November 2011