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Understand, then act

Reader comment on item: Deterring Tehran
in response to reader comment: Only Option: Attack Iran when you can

Submitted by David (United States), May 11, 2006 at 17:17

One of the big errors of the Iraq adventure has been that the US and its allies started in with so little about the country and its people that we are still gasping to learn while doing. I'm not talking about intelligence, although that would help; I mean the stuff you can learn from picking up books in the library or reading the encyclopedia. Or learning the language. We're smarter now, but then again, where did all that aid money go?

We'd best not make the same mistake with Iran. Can the president gather together for consultation as many experts on Iran as he can find BEFORE making decisions and acting? Not just from the dysfunctional and biased intelligence agencies, but from scholars: Amir Taheri has a great column in the NY Post about the meaning behind the Iranian leader's recent letter. I had no idea of this. Do DOD and White House planners know anything about the cultural and historical context that Taheri discusses? Does anybody speak the languages of Iran?

And then yeah, before going in there and blowing up a lot of good and bad people, we should consider a number of options. Do the MBAs in the govt read any of those business books that their peers pick up in airports about all the subtle strategies of "combat" in the marketplace, how to apply Sun Tzu, and all that? Seems like a clever and persistent guy like Bush, an MBA himself (right?) would be interested in strategic approaches to this problem. Ti Kwan do and martial arts types know all sorts of ways to use opponents' strengths and weaknesses against them. Might be something there.

The US and its allies need to start taking a longer, more strategic view -- like the vaunted Chinese, although the Chinese actually seem to be very short-term thinkers these days. Sure, we could blow them up and if they offer us no alternative, away we go. But it would seem in the interests of the entire world to avoid that course. And certainly, subversive warfare should be tried first before we roll out the ICBMs.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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