How Big Of A Danger Is Iran?, Ctd

More

A reader writes:

Juan Cole apparently cribbed the figure of "a little over $6 billion annually" from Wikipedia, which cites an estimate of 2005 expenditures from the publication 'Military Balance.' Really, that's fantastic scholarship. The latest edition of the same publication provides an estimate of 2007 expenditures at $7.45b; it's doubtless risen since.

But the bigger problem is that this is obfuscation by misdirection. Per capita expenditures are a meaningless metric - the standard way to measure these things is by percentage of GDP, which places Iran at the middle of the pack, between India and the UK. In any case, Iran's real strength rests more directly on the sheer size of its forces, with more than half a million active duty personnel, and almost two million combat-capable reservists and militiamen. It also funds the Quds Force, and through it, groups like Hezbollah and Iraqi insurgents who can serve as proxies. And its pursuit of missile and nuclear technology is similarly intended to amplify its regional influence.

Apologists like Juan Cole do tremendous damage to the case against military strikes. He cites out-of-date statistics and misleading metrics; claims that Ahmadinejad merely "hope[s] that the [Israeli] regime will collapse, just as the Soviet Union did"; and downplays the importance of the enrichment site at Qom. Any reasonable reader would conclude that the case for diplomatic engagement necessarily rests upon tendentious claims, deliberate misreadings, and willful ignorance. Engagement actually requires precisely the opposite - a clear-eyed assessment of Iran's capabilities and intentions, of its strengths and weaknesses. It is grounded in realism, not denial. It's worth debunking myths and aiming for greater understanding, but part of that process is wrestling with uncomfortable truths and areas of genuine disagreement. Cole would rather ignore them. I hope that your readers won't take his essay as representative of the case for engagement. It's not only possible to acknowledge the problems with this regime while pursuing negotiations; it's necessary.

Jump to comments

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Remote Warehouse Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where the Wild Things Go

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Adults Need Playtime Too

When was the last time you played your favorite childhood game?

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down