Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Don't Panic 

The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy had "Don't Panic" written in large, friendly letters on its cover. Its a phrase we can apply now to Iran: Don't Panic!
Think Progress summarizes the hype and hysteria that Fox News viewers are seeing about how Bush is intending to start a war with Iran.
And if you can stomach it, check out the cheerleading at the National Review (h/t Wolcott) -- "Negotiation? We don't need no stinkin' negotiation. We want war! We want war! We want war!"
Over at Talking Points Memo, guest poster Matthew Yglesias has two excellent posts about the Iran panic, one about the hysteria and the other about the fear-mongering.
First, kibosh the hysteria:
. . .Iran [is]outgunned by its two leading religio-ideological antagonists, Israel and Saudi Arabia, in the region. One immediate neighbor is Pakistan, with a larger population base and a nuclear arsenal. Another immediate neighbor, Afghanistan, is occupied by soldiers under the command of an American president who has spurned peace offers and threatened to overthrow the Iranian government. A second immediate neighbor, Iraq, is occupied by a larger number of soldiers from the same country. The Iranian military's equipment is outdated and essentially incapable of mounting offensive operations. So Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them. Under the circumstances, wouldn't you? . . . somebody needs to call bull$#*t on the prevailing elite consensus about Iran. Of course it would be better to find a way to persuade, cajole, whatever Iran out of going nuclear -- the spread of nuclear weapons is, as such, bad for the USA. But there's no need -- absolutely no need -- for this atmosphere of panic and paranoia.
Second, quit with the Scary Hitler analogy:
I hope I won't rob anyone of their innocence by making this observation, but politicians lie. In particular, along with telling the truth about his strategic ambitions, Hitler lied about his strategic ambitions. One reason people underestimated their scope was that Hitler put some time into trying to deceive people. He said different things at different times . . . So the "lesson" people want to draw from the 1930s isn't that we should take people's statements more seriously. Rather, the "lesson" they've learned is that we should always adopt the most alarmist possible interpretation of every given situation. But, of course, they never put it that way. Why don't they? Well, because when you put it that way it sounds like a stupid lesson. Which, obviously, it is. If you want to draw lessons from history, you need to really look at history as a whole. Have countries, as a general matter, been well served by adopting maximally alarmist interpretations of events abroad? I don't think that's a remotely justifiable view. If anything, history teaches the reverse lesson.
Emphasis mine.

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