Thursday, March 13, 2008

War With Iran


Yahoo! News ran an article titled 6 Signs the U.S. May Be Headed for War in Iran
You can read the article by clicking on the link above.

Within my own family there is a difference of opinion about war with Iran. Here are what I see as the pros and cons.


  • Iran is the source of supplies, training and possibly men who are attacking U.S. soldiers in Iraq
  • Iran's president is a dangerous fool who may soon have access to nuclear weapons
  • Iran is using it's oil revenues to fund terrorism elsewhere in the Middle East and, potentially, Europe and the U.S.
  • Israel may start a conflict and pull us in at a time not of our own choosing
  • Iran is a Shiite counterbalance to Saudi Arabia's Sunni extremists with no love lost between those factions
  • Iran has millions of young, anti-cleric people who may offer an internal lever to turn Iran away from its present course
  • Iran has had ties with Russia and may pull them in to any conflict
  • Iran could conceivably cripple all oil shipments from the Middle East and ruin Western economies [see previous post]
  • The U.S. is between a rock and a hard place with Iran
  • The U.S. could destroy Iran's nuclear capability and create an all-out Middle East insurgency
  • Iran likely will distribute its nuclear weapons to terrorists on a limited basis to blackmail the West unless the U.S. makes the cost of such action too high for the Iranian government
Our concern is two-fold:
  • Neutralizing Iran's proxies in the Middle East
  • Preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability or eliminating that capability if they have it
  • Eliminate Iran's surrogates in the Middle East quickly and harshly
  • Supply Israel with any needed additional armaments and intelligence they may request to allow them to defend themselves, if needed
  • Implement economic blackmail against Iran to create massive unrest among the populace
  • After a strong, public warning, take out one non-nuclear military target in Iran for each IED or suicide bomb that goes off in Iraq with a public statement that such U.S. attacks will stop when IEDs and suicide bombers disappear in Iraq... quid pro quo... based on intelligence that Iran is the source of those weapons and trains those who use the weapons
  • Offer Iran a way out based on cessation of their nuclear program along with participation in a general Middle East peace process
Will that work? That's problematic. But, let's be clear about Iran: at present, they do not threaten the U.S. directly. They are more likely to be a threat only to Israel, a source of instability in Iraq, and a competitor to the Sunni Arabs. Iran's president is a buffoon,

but the clerics are much shrewder and less willing to participate in Armageddon.
They also have their list of pros and cons.

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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
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- O. Henry
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Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)