Thursday, November 13, 2008

Would YOU like to be the Great Satan?

Two pieces of writing have recently come to my attention regarding US policy towards Iran.  This paper by some people at the University of North Texas uses, of all things, an event history model to address what they call ``The Podhoretz Argument''.  This is the idea that the most effective strategy by which to redress the threat of Iran is for the United States to employ military force to eliminate Iran’s nuclear capability.  Enterline et al look at the relations between the US and opponents from 1945-2002 and find that:

`` our model shows strong support for the idea that American military clashes reduce, rather than extend, the durability of peace following a use of military force. Historically, American military clashes have sharply reduced the durability of peace afterward, although this effect diminishes the longer the United States and an opponent go without fighting again. We note a similar effect in terms of the number of fatalities produced by a military interaction; specifically, the greater the number of fatalities resulting from a military interaction between the United States and an opponent, the less durable the peace between them afterward. Undoubtedly, there is a selection effect at work here, such that the United States is most likely to be involved in high casualty clashes with those states with which it has the most hostile relationships. Nevertheless, this historical tendency runs in direct contrast to Podhoretz’s argument.''

Then, on Duck of Minerva, there is this interesting argument that Obama's willingness to talk to Iran could cause a legitimacy crisis for the regime because they have premised so much of their foreign policy rhetoric on denouncing the US as the Great Satan.  As Peter observes, ``Its a terrible thing to take away one's enemy''

Bottom line: I don't think we should bomb Iran.

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