For the first time in many years, I’m not going to make any effort to watch or listen to the SOTU. Why bother? From an economic perspective, I’m still waiting for GW to fulfill promises from his capaign and from when he first took office. He won’t fulfill those, and everything else has just been a never-ending series of goal-post movements. Sometimes there are claims of success following the movements, sometimes there aren’t, but from an economic perspective, anyone who understands the difference between “real” and “nominal” knows this administration doesn’t have any economic accomplishments to its credit.
Then there’s Iraq. There’s no point in recapitulating this mess again. Sure, he’ll probably flesh out his plan, but its basically fire the foolish general who towed the GW line for 3 years, and promote some generals foolish enough to tow the new GW line until he runs out the clock.
The rest of the SOTU will be made up of minor disasters of one sort or another. Some stupid healthcare proposal that will benefit insurance companies and screw the insured, and potential the uninsured as well. Some junior version of the Mars proposal of a few years back. Whatever.
The only interesting thing will be Iran. At the NRO, K Lo tells us ”Iran and Syria will be warned again tonight”.
Which reminded me of what another NRO denizen wrote the other day. J Pod, one of the more intelligent members of the NRO community criticized those who claim GW is exagerating the Iran threat. As he notes, “when it comes to Iran’s WMD, once again, nobody is relying on intelligence to inform us that the Iranians are in full pursuit of nukes. Iran’s own president says it himself, constantly and repeatedly.”
Now, J Pod sometime seems to play a moron, but he isn’t one. I assume he knows what is going on here. This is very simple game theory. The President and the cheerleaders in the NRO/Weekly Standard crowd consider themselves to be realists and tough guys. They believe in things like the Ledeen doctrine (i.e., “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business”).
So moving troops around, hopefully into harm’s way, is how this crowd looks look tough and realistic. So where do they move those troops – which small little crappy country gets thrown against a wall? (And bear in mind, a really realistic and tough President isn’t going to stop with just one small little crappy country.)
Well, the President did name an Axis of Evil. Iraq, the weakest of the three, was the obvious starting point. North Korea – best avoided at all costs – they’ve got nukes.
Now, what’s the message to the rest of the world? Well, the US won’t mess with you if you got nukes. Now, Iran got the message, so they’re screaming right and left that not only do they have nukes, by golly they’re itching to use them. But everyone else got the message too. After a while, it sinks in with the smarter Corner residents that the end result of this will be a world with lots of small little crappy countries that have nukeelar weapons. (I’m sure someone explained it to GW too.) And where is the Ledeen doctrine then?
So… the logical thing, from the perspective of realists and tough guys, is to hit Iran. Make it clear you believe they have WMDs and that you’re willing to hit them anyway. (Of course, it would be necessary to use more appropriate jargon). Do it right and those small little crappy countries will realize that even a joker won’t save you from the Ledeen doctrine.
Sadly for the realists and tough guys… the Iraq adventure has not gone so well. The troops, the ones who should have been available to go into Iran, are goldbricking in Iraq. As Ledeen himself tells us, many of them are “sitting in air-conditioned quarters and drinking designer coffee”, and simply saying “[e]nough of that” won’t solve the problem.
But as Condi Rice said the other day, a problem is also an opportunity. If the troops aren’t there to invade Iran, it only means they won’t get bogged down “sitting in air-conditioned quarters and drinking designer coffee” in Iran. The tough guys and realists realize – you don’t have to invade Iran to show you’re tough. Hit them from the air and you accomplish the same thing:
1a. Since they don’t WMDs anyway, hitting them from the air won’t be any less effective at eliminating their WMDs than occupying them
1b. It will reduce the pesky questions that would otherwise come a few years later (“where are them nukes y’all talked about?”)
2. You don’t even have go through the effort of learning how to tell yet another group of towelheads apart.
Talk about win-win-win.
The question is… do the Iranians see this? Are they playing along? I have no idea. And I have work to do. Your thoughts?
Update. Clearly this thing needed some editing. I rewrote parts of it to make it more legible. Apologies.