The Greater Satan

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Jan. 31 2006 6:19 PM

The Greater Satan

Bloggers evaluate the significance of China and Russia's decision to report Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council. They also respond to the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and mark Coretta Scott King's passing. 

The Greater Satan: Iran restarted its uranium enrichment program about three weeks ago, ending a two-year moratorium on nuclear experimentation. Today, China and Russia agreed to join with the United States, Britain, Germany, and France to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council, which may issue sanctions if it finds that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, condemned the referral, claiming it would put "an end to diplomacy."

Some are encouraged by the referral. "The mullahs apparently thought that Russia and China would never follow the EU and the US on a UNSC referral for political reasons. They underestimated the reluctance of any nation to allow Islamists access to nuclear weapons," arguesCaptain's Quarters' conservative Ed Morrissey. "A tough sanctions regime will hurt the people of Iran before it hurts the mullahs, and that might serve to finally rouse enough resentment to topple the Islamist power structure."

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But others wonder how significant the referral will prove. Noting that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that "The Security Council will not make any decisions," In From the Cold's Spook86, a retired member of the U.S. intelligence community, suggests that Iran would be threatening to export less oil if it were truly worried. He goes on to urge that "the U.S. and its allies must avoid the mistake of taking a step backward, by letting Tehran's allies derail the process, or agreeing to some form of watered-down punishment." And Justus for All's right-leaning Dave Justus points out, "We will have a better indication of how far Iran is willing to go if it halts the IAEA inspections. Doing that would be a strong signal that they are not bluffing on the rest, and that they are willing to go all the way."

Still others are turning to history. In a guest editorial on Middle East blog Informed Comment, William O. Beeman, former director of Middle East studies at Brown University, insists that, "Every aspect of Iran's current nuclear development was approved and encouraged by Washington in the 1970s. President Gerald Ford offered Iran a full nuclear cycle in 1976, and the only reactor currently about to become operative, the reactor in Bushire, was started before the Iranian revolution with U.S. approval."And Engineering & …, the blog of the American Society for Engineering education, sketches the U.N.'s recent history of conflict with Iran, and links to a New York Times article about how the United States is honing its ability to detect nuclear weapons facilities in hopes of avoiding another WMD fiasco.

Read more about Iran; read the BBC's roundup of reactions in the Iranian blogosphere (including Rendaane's suggestion that, "They want to deprive Iran of the right to play in the World Cup on the pretext that Iran is building a nuclear weapon.")

Alito, ascendant: After an unsuccessful filibuster led by John Kerry and Edward Kennedy, Samuel Alito was sworn in as the newest Supreme Court Justice Tuesday.

Conservative supporters are overjoyed. Michelle Malkin gushes over Alito's  "perseverance and grace in the midst of the sludge-throwing Senate Democrat windbags." And Right We Are!'s Zach crows, "Decades of hard work has paid off with the appointment of Justice Roberts and now Justice Alito. The former is particularly satisfying as Alito is a more openly conservative fellow than Roberts, and also because his confirmation vindicates all of us who bitterly opposed that unfortunate nomination last year, the details of which we do not need to recount here." And law blog Volokh Conspiracy's Orin Kerr notes, "Less obviously, congratulations are in order to Justice Stephen Breyer, who is no longer the junior-most Associate Justice and will no longer have to get the door at the Justices' confererences."

Alito's confirmation is prompting an examination of why the Democrats' filibuster failed. Conservative law professor Stephen Bainbridge gloats, "Finally, might I point out to the doubters, that the Gang of 14 deal - which I supported despite taking considerable flak from my fellow conservatives - worked. There were 14 more votes for cloture than for confirmation, proving that the deal was able to prevent a filibuster." And the Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum strikes a sour note: "This campaign was never likely to succeed, and today it failed as expected. But that's not all: it failed by the embarrassingly lopsided margin of 72-25. … [W]hat does this say about the influence of the lefty blogosphere?"

But some bloggers who spearheaded the call for a filibuster feel otherwise. "The idea that it is somehow a sign of weakness because we only got 25 members of the Senate, including the entire leadership, to vote to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee is funny to me," exhortsHullabaloo's Digby. "This is a dramatic moment for the netroots. Get ready for marginalization, evocations of 1968 and 1972, calls for purging us from the party, the whole thing. That's what happens when the citizens rise up."

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