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March 05, 2008



Marc, I'd love to hear your thought experiment for a Clinton administration.

I don't feel like I have the international relations expertise to make up one myself.


(Maybe just in the comments so it doesn't detract from your brilliant post's ability to stand alone and shine.)


Wow Aardvark, you take wishful fantasies to a new level. What are the details of your "Grand Bargain" with the Ahmadinejad and the terror-mullahs? Do you really think Islamists will ever negotiate in good faith? You think the Infidel prostrating ourselves in front of our terrorist enemies (who brutally oppress their own people, call constantly for our destruction, acitively seek nukes, and are quintessential state-sponsors of terror)will have the effect of ameliorating their quest for power, annihilation, and regional domination, and that everyone will suddenly get along in the ME? I guess a blog is different than journalism in that self-righteous sarcastic fantasy is the order of the day, but if you have a problem with Gershon's piece, isn't it a bit hypocritical to counter with fantasy rant of your own?

Mark Pyruz

Wow, Marc. The Gerson scenario wasn't even serious. In regards to US-Iran relations, it was simply an exercise in the reduction to the absurd, a favorite tactic of those opposed to any improved relations with Tehran.


Gouda is my favorite kind of cheese.


Prof. Lynch, I'm curious how you see a grand bargain w/ Iran as possible given the current balance of power w/in the Iranian gov't. What with the demoting of Larijani, among many other signs, my impression has been that the more rabbid, ideological party (Pres. Ahmedinejad's clique) is on the rise. Or am I mistaken? What could be obstacles in IRANIAN politics to American attempts to negotiate such a deal?

Farook Ahmed

I guess Obama was right.

It is definitely the silly season of politics in Washington.

Enlightened Layperson

Well, I guess Gerson has made clear what other neocons only hint at. Diplomacy = appeasement. He therefore opposes all diplomacy.

William deB. Mills

These somewhat light-hearted thought experiments illustrate a very serious issue - how one thinks about the future. As a people we don't seem too good at doing this sort of thing, but if some foundation concerned about U.S. national security could put up just a bit of funding, truly useful analysis could be done. For starters, what are the key drivers underlying these different stories? Why might the drivers (e.g., pride, security, economics, ambition) play out differently under one scenario than another? If treated with respect and offered a role and with the knowledge that time is on its's side (just to respond to Cheeseman), Iran might well conclude that it would be in its interest to support a calm and swift retreat of U.S. forces, leaving it to accept the thanks of Iraqis grateful for peace. My point is not to give answers but simply to observe that this is a fruitful way to attack tough problems. It may not guarantee discovery of the Truth, but it certainly illuminates the rot in the foundations that hold up our cherished assumptions.

In the absence of generous foundation support, anyone up for administering a WIKI dedicated to a volunteer-basis scenario analysis of what the next president might do in the Mideast?

William deB. Mills

Something odd happened in virtual land - my comment (#9) beginning "These somewhat lighthearted...: somehow got attributed to Enlightened Layperson. My apologies. I have no idea how this occurred.


Well done, Professor Marc. It is ludicrous for a columnist to throw around predictions like that, without delving deeply into the questions at hand. I really appreciate your ability to steer clear of talking points.

I would like to hear your thoughts on the potential Clinton Administration.

Leila Abu-Saba

OT to the thread but not to Prof. Aardvark's interests in pop culture: I just discovered the Lebanese drag artist Bessam Feghali, who does elaborate drag parodies of, among others, Fairuz and Haife Wehbe. He's uncanny. Professor Aardvark, have you seen this guy?

I blogged Drag Fayrouz at Dove's Eye View today, and also linked to Pierre Tristam who blogged an article about The Bride, a Palestinian/Israeli drag artist who sings revolutionary Fayruz songs in Tel Aviv while wearing a bloody wedding dress and clutching a rock.

Vive les Reines Drags, as Pierre says.

T. Greer

" Maybe the Washington Post editorial board could try out one of those scenarios - neither of which is a sure thing, but each of which, frankly, is far more likely than Gerson's fairly ridiculous scenario."

Oh please, your scenario for John McCain's potential presidency is a much larger hyperbole than the one written for the post:

"President John McCain celebrates his inauguration by declaring that the American people have spoken: there will be no departure from Iraq until the job is done, no matter how long it takes and no matter the cost."

This first paragraph is good; I wouldn't be surprised at all if this happens- if it what you put next that makes me question your judgment.

"Iraqi Sunnis, whose cooperation with the U.S. had in part been based on assurances that Americans would soon begin to leave and that they would be integrated into the Iraqi army and police, abandon the Awakenings and return to the insurgency."

Uh huh. Am I the only who sees this as a sheer impossibility? Fact of the matter is, the life of the average Sunni in places such as Ramadi, Fallujah, and even Baghdad has gotten so much better since they have the awakening that it would strike pretty much everybody as ludicrous to go back. For the first time in years Sunnis are getting want they want politically, while it is now the Sunnis- not the Shiia- who are having their life rebuilt by USAID dollars. It is simply not worth it for the Sunni's to abandon this. (Not to mention the fact that the vast majority of Sheiks now have death sentences placed on their heads by Al Queada and their ilk- they would sooner go to the Iranians than go to the insurgency for help.)

NOTE: Two good resources that will help you see the improvement in the Sunni condition are the FSO Anbar Reconstruction Leader, Matel-in-Iraq blog, and Michael J. Totten's independent news site, The Middle East Journal.

"As American forces, already stretched to their limit, scramble to deal with the renewed violence, McCain escalates his rhetoric against Iran - blaming them for the chaos and threatening "massive retaliation". The Iranians ignore him, and even encourage their Iraqi allies to turn up the heat - resulting in a mass-casualty attack on the Green Zone. McCain retaliates by bombing Iran, to the horror of the Gulf states and the region."

Again, I simply cannot see this ever happening. Sure, McCain might blame Iran for an increase in violence- which is unlikely to happen in the first place- but he would be in any position to declare war over it. Short of the development of an Iranian A-bomb (which Obama has no more ability or power to stop than McCain) or an attack by an Iranian armored division, McCain will be simply unable to get the bombs to fall on Tehran. He will have no public support, and I doubt he would want to jeopardize our position in Iraq any more than it all ready is.

"The bombing has little effect on the Iranian regime, but throws the region into chaos, Iraq descends into bloody hell, and....."

You are telling me that consistent aerial bombardment would not destroy any semblance of Iranian government? While I agree with you, Iraq, as well as every country in the Middle East, would fall into bloody hell, but the Iranian government wouldn't be a part of it.

In contrast, I do not see what is so implausible about the Obama scenario presented by the Post. The vast majority of his predictions are little more than the prediction of public opinion- and he is right, you will have mass protests in Florida if Obama talks to Castro, and you will have mass protests in Israel if Obama talks to Amajihad. Likewise, there will be a flood of editorials that will accuse Obama of taking the worst path in withdrawing from Iraq. However, that does not mean that each of those scenarios won't turn out to be long term successes. It just means that large sections of the global citizenship will oppose what Obama is doing.

Non-Arab Arab

T. Greer: How exactly would protests in Israel and south Florida qualify as "large sections of the global citizenship"? At most a few million from two small countries out of 6.5 billion. Am I missing something?

T. Greer

@Non-Arab Arab:

Yeah, my words are a slight exageration there. While I am sure you could make the case large sections of the global citizenship would oppose what Obama would do, that can be said of anything any President would do. This is in it self says that the reaction of the author is a little extreme- after all, how much do protestors in Tel Aviv on Miami actually matter?

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