How do we sensibly (or even semi-scientifically) discuss the geopolitical issues amongst varying opinions? In Klaus Rhode's entry:Iraq war casualties and Iran, he takes a court-case type of paradigm for analysis. There is an apportionment of blame for, say deaths in Iraq since the war, proven crimes formerly by Iraq, current suspected and proven crimes by Iran and Iranians. This is then taken as a basis for what actions various countries should take, including the US, and whether these actions would be legal, and the likely consequences of taking action or not. My greatest objection to this paradigm is that it doesn't come close to reflecting reality. There is no world court to speak of, laws of nations are still competing with the law of the gun, misdeeds related to war-like actions cannot be brought to justice 999 times out of 1000. Apportionment of blame is realistic in situations (within borders of countries) that have good separation of powers, lots of resources for justice compared to the number of crimes, and little motivation for state-sponsored crime. These three things are not anywhere near happening in the middle east or geopolitically in general, making the paradigm nearly useless as a tool for discussion and analysis.
An example in point I can make for clarity is the use of human shields in Serbia during the war in Kosovo. If civilians are placed in strategic locations that are known to be bomb targets; is the country that dropped the bombs or the country that put them in harms way to blame if they die? Discussions quickly turn from who is to blame to how successful the strategy is. I am the kind of person that can think at the same time that an action is wrong and immoral, and also that if I was placed in that position, that it would be the best move to make. When leaders make decisions based solely on strategy rather than because international laws tell them to, a court case analogy loses all its predictive power and therefore its relevance. When strategy is the main motivating factor for discretionary decisions, game theory gives the best predictive qualities. This is why I can seem to be a game theory ideologue. To take the Iran (potential for the US to make bomb strikes on them) issue: To say that it would cause mass deaths, and would be illegal under international law misses the point entirely. Whether the powers that be decide to go down that path also depends on what Iran does (or "their move"). That Iran would continue toward a nuclear threshold even though they realise that there is an invisible line over which if they cross, the risk of war continues to rise, even if they don't quite know where that line lies, means that they are not afraid of war. The future of their citizens (and in the long term themselves), is also partly in their hands and the provocations they make. The Iraq example should demonstrate that the US is not that afraid of casualties, nor of a protracted conflict. Even if it doesn't deter Iran, it would probably deter others.