WAR IS PEACE! Whoah . . . there's some crazy stuff lurking behind that TimesSelect subscription wall, notably Paul Kane's notion that "President Bush and Congress should reinstitute selective service under a lottery without any deferments." Why? Well, because if we do, "Iran's leaders and public will see that the United States is serious about ensuring that they never possess a nuclear weapon." This sounds to me like an excellent way to reduce the level of TAPPED content as Garance and Greg need to hold down the fort while Sam, Mark, Ezra and I go off to get killed, but it seems to lack other merits. Kane, however, says it "may be our last best chance to avoid war with Iran." To me, though, the last best chance to avoid war with Iran would be to not start a war with Iran. This thing about responding to Iranian peace overtures would be nice, but I think it's impossible to overstate the role that not starting a war with Iran plays in the Yglesias War-Avoidance Plan. Basically, if we don't start a war with Iran there . . . won't be a war with Iran.

Conversely, noted international relations scholars Outkast have observed that, in one's dealings with rogue states, it's unwise to make threats unless you're actually prepared to follow through (i.e., "Don't pull the thang out, unless you plan to bang / Bombs over Baghdad! Don't even bang unless you plan to hit somethang /Bombs over Baghdad!") on your threats. This is really the issue. Threats of force can be a useful element in diplomacy, and making the threat can avoid the need to follow through, but it's deeply, deeply unwise to go down that road unless you actually think it's a good idea to go to war if the threats fail to intimidate. Sending a giant conscript army to occupy Iran is a terrible idea. If you think our current troops lack the appropriate training for the occupation of Iraq, just wait until I'm the one doing it. Think about it.

--Matthew Yglesias

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