Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Red line district

Odd remark from Mitt Romney:
On “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Mr. Romney declared that the progress of Iran’s nuclear program was Mr. Obama’s “greatest failure” in foreign policy.
Is that meant as praise? Just short of 190 kg of 20% uranium? (Not that that isn't enough to be pretty evil with if that's what you have in mind.) Obama's predecessor allowed North Korea to accumulate a stockpile of six to eight actually built nuclear weapons, and that's nowhere near the top of his list of foreign policy failures.
Centrifuge array. From Nature 464, 32-33 (4 March 2010)

The story we're looking at is not about Romney, but his old buddy Binyamin Netanyahu, who is thought to be particularly anxious to see him replace the shvartser person currently in the White House. Netanyahu plunged into the US campaign on Tuesday to announce that
“Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”
Funny, you don't look like a philosopher. What's that supposed to mean? Poetically, I get the non-rhyme between open, sonorous "red line" and clipped "red light", and the rhyme between "right" and "light", and all those lovely r's, but what are they trying to do? Asking Israel not to start a needless and dangerous war is something you must earn the right to?

Consider a parallel argument I'd be more sympathetic to:
States that use capital punishment don't have a moral right to prosecute murders.
They don't have a right to prosecute murders in the first place, it isn't something they do to gratify themselves after work; it is work, whether they are stained with the blood of executions or not. It is a moral obligation. Similarly, it is a moral obligation to try to stop the IDF from attacking Iran if you think it is a catastrophically bad idea, independent of whether or not you also try to stop the Iranian government from building a nuclear weapon, or do it in the way Binyamin Netanyahu wants you to.
Those who refuse to do what I want don't have a moral right to criticize me.
Those who refuse to keep the toilet paper hanging behind the roll don't have a moral right to use dishrags instead of sponges.
I don't believe Iran is going to build a nuclear weapon, and I really don't think Israel is going to attack Iran.  I'd like to dare Israel to go ahead and try—in the worst case it would do less short-term harm to Iranian people than the sanctions do and at best Netanyahu might destroy himself in a Rumpelstiltskin rage. If I were in Obama's position, though, I might not want to take the chance.

There you go.
Klaus Müller in Augsburg as Brecht's "betrunkenes Rumpelstilzchen" Herr Puntila.

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