Thursday, February 22, 2007


The latest blog cage match seems to involve Glenn Reynolds again, who advocated the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists and mullahs. It's kind of odd that Prof. Reynolds is the subject of so much controversy, seeing as how he's been running one of the least shrill blogs on the internet, Instapundit. So anytime someone accuses the good professor of being a wingnut, I take notice. And that's exactly what many liberal bloggers, most notably Glenn Greenwald and Scott Lemieux, did.

I'll comment on Lemieux's post, here:

Mainly because unlike Greenwald, a normally reasonable blogger who could only express moral outrage and horror rather than reasoned arguments, Lemieux actually challenged Reynolds' idea with probing questions. Such as:

Could anyone be dumb enough to think that the American assassination of Iranian clerics, scientists and/or political leaders would help liberal forces in Iran?

Would propping up the regime with energy assistance help the liberal forces in Iran? Okay, that's not fair, since it's just answering a question by posing another question. Never mind that the Greenwalds and Lemieuxs of the world have never particularly cared one way or another about the Iranian liberals, at least judging by the dearth of blog posts on Iran's liberals. Oh yeah, the question. No, assassinating clerics and scientists wouldn't help. It wouldn't hurt either. When Iraqi insurgents pick off Iraqi government people, does that strengthen the government and support for the government? It wouldn't do any favors for Iran's government either.

That killing a couple scientists would make Iran less determined to acquire nuclear weapons?

Determination doesn't build nuclear weapons anymore than determination gets us a cure for cancer.

That these kinds of covert ops are remotely viable?

Lemieux could have a point here. But that's the only valid argument, in my opinion: can it be done? If it can't, we shouldn't. If it can, we should.

Then Lemieux concludes with this attack:

The whole thing is nuttier than a Planters factory, and Reynolds can't even be bothered to begin an argument on the merits. This should be irrelevant to his job, of course, but that anybody takes anything he writes about foreign policy seriously is remarkable.

Read Glenn Reynolds' op-ed and decide for yourself:

Looks to me like he made reasoned arguments:

History first: There’s nothing beyond the pale about suggesting assassination and covert action as an alternative to warfare. In 1998, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Joseph Biden, D-Del., asked the government to look into assassination as a means of dealing with terrorists; Sen. Chuck Robb, D-Va., suggested assassinating Saddam Hussein the same year. On Jan. 3, 2001, Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., introduced legislation to facilitate the assassination of terrorists. And in 1997, George Stephanopoulos wrote: “A misreading of the law or misplaced moral squeamishness should not stop the president from talking about assassination. He should order up the options and see if it’s possible. If we can kill Saddam, we should.” If this be fascism, make the most of it.