2007-09-24

The MAD solution

Here's something just reported from the BBC about Iran:
The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has said that Iran is not heading for armed conflict with the United States.

In an American television interview, he said Iran was not on a path of war with the US and that Iran had no need of nuclear weapons.

He is due to address the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.

The US is leading moves to impose further sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear development programme.

"It's wrong to think that Iran and the US are walking towards war. Who says so? Why should we go to war? There is no war in the offing," the Iranian leader said in the interview with CBS television.

He also denied Iran had nuclear arms ambitions.

"You have to appreciate we don't need a nuclear bomb. We don't need that. What need do we have for a bomb?" Mr Ahmadinejad asked.

"In political relations right now, the nuclear bomb is of no use."
I personally think that neither Iran nor North Korea have the technological know-how or economic strength to create a nuclear weapon. But even if they do, they would have problems delivering it to their target, not to mention that the natural response to a nuclear attack on a neighbour would be nuclear attack on their own soil.

Owning your own nuke is, however, a great leveller when it comes to international military power. Iran and North Korea cannot threaten major world powers with their conventional armies but they certainly can with a nuke or two.

The theory behind this is called Mutual assured destruction, or MAD for short. It was MAD that, more or less, kept both America and Russia from nuking each other between 1950 and 1990. Even if one superpower had less nukes than the other, any pre-emptive nuclear attack from one superpower would still result in a substantial nuclear response. Put simply, if you choose to destroy your enemy, he had enough nukes to destroy you at the same time.

North Korea and Iran may or may not have nukes. But even if they do, there is little chance that they would use them aggressively. Iran could, I suppose, choose to use their nukes against Israel and North Korea could use their nukes against Japan - but we know that if they do then the response would be swift and complete. American nukes would rain down on either North Korea or Iran for their attack. North Korea and Iran know this and, if they had nukes, they would know that such an action on their part would be suicidal.

Yet MAD grants protection to a nuclear Iran or North Korea. If America chooses to attack either nation there is always a chance that these nations would use their nukes to defend themselves - either through launching an attack against a neighbour (such as Israel or Japan) or upon invading enemy forces (such as a US Carrier group in the Persian gulf or US troops north of the 38th parallel).

In other words, if Iran or North Korea gain nuclear weapons, they will essentially guarantee their own safety against outside aggression. They are unlikely to use such weapons in an aggressive war - or even develop them enough to sell to terrorists.

26 comments:

Dave Lankshear said...

Both have the materials. (See the wiki's on Iran's program and North Korea's reactors.

North Korea may have detonated a semi-successful “fizzer” which goes part of the way through a reaction. It's quite high tech stuff to even get to the fizzer stage, which shows some serious commitment.

“The smaller (5MWe) was completed in 1986 and has since produced possibly 8,000 spent fuel elements. ....The smaller plant produces enough material to build one new bomb per year.
(Wiki above)

Iran has defiantly stated it wants nuclear power. Every nation in the western world is up in arms over these plans. Yet you seem to be asking us to trust in the “reality” of MAD? What if MAD does not exist in this guy's world-view? What if he thinks he can let terrorists do the job for him? What if he really, genuinely feels he has some sick scenario that offers “plausible deniability”?

The word on the street is that Iran keeps sponsoring the weaponry and roadside bombs killing Iraqi's and Americans in Iraq.

I cannot understand why you are soft peddling this? You listened to Hans Blix on Iraq and made a good call — even when I was arguing that Saddam's history of castrating Richard Butler's team showed his real intentions. I was wrong. The USA and our own governments lied to us about "clear and compelling evidence" (that they had to keep secret because of security concerns. Yeah right).

But I really do not want to see a nuclear Iran.

I think a quote from the Nicole Kidman 1997 Movie “The Peacemaker” is appropriate here.

Julia Kelly: Whether it's important to you or not, there are people out there who don't care about money, who don't give a damn about respect. People who believe the killing of innocent men and women is justified. For them it is about rage, frustration, hatred... they feel pain and they're determined to share it with the world.
Thomas Devoe: Okay, that does me no good. Now let's deal with the facts at hand. 23 hours ago, General Alexander Kodoroff stole ten nuclear warheads.
Julia Kelly: He's just a delivery boy. I'm not afraid of the man who wants ten nuclear weapons, Colonel. I'm terrified of the man who only wants one.


A top-secret contact I have developed is quantum computer last month. He unleashed future information from electrons cycling through quantum potentials, and was able to access a quantum flux-drive from the year 2011. He sent these news snippets to me.

9/11/2011: "A thermonuclear device was detonated in Jerusalem. The city of the bible patriarchs is no more."

later...

"A webcast from Ossama Bin Laden confirms that al-Qaeda planned this event to commemorate the 9/11 attacks of exactly 10 years ago.
World leaders have called Israeli embassies to express their horror, as embassies abroad seek word from the home government — if one still exists."

and later still...

"Our special feature tonight: "The Burning Question" explores the horrific potential for nuclear escalation as the accusations mount. How did al-Qaeda come by a nuclear weapon? Both Iran and North Korea have immediately stated their innocence. But how does a terrorist group bound to desert hills manufacture a device of these exacting specifications? The world holds it's breath as the American security forces analyse their data. What will be the next move? We can only hope and pray for..." fzzzzzzzzt. Static.

One Salient Oversight said...

The issue is that I don't see Iran as a threat. Many of its people have a secular world view and, while they have disdain for America, these people do not wish war.

The clerics who control the country are Shi'a and would have nothing whatsoever to do with Fundamentalist Sunni terrorist groups.

Remember that Sunnis view Shi'a as being heretics.

If nuclear weapons material finds its way into the hands of terrorists it will not be through Iran. It is more likely to be through Pakistan.

And, of course, there is the potential future of Jerusalem being destroyed by a nuke that you postulate.

I ask - why would Islamic terrorists want to destroy Jerusalem? It is, along with Mecca and Medina, one of the holiest cities in Islam.

BLBeamer said...

The clerics who control the country are Shi'a and would have nothing whatsoever to do with Fundamentalist Sunni terrorist groups.

An answer to that is: first things first. Heretics are heretics, but infidels are infidels. If Iran considers itself at undeclared war with the infidel West (particularly the Great Satan USA), it would be in its interest to foment as much mayhem as possible.

One example: recent publicized evidence of Iranian involvement in Afghanistan in support of the Sunni Taliban suggest that your characterization of the Iranian's abhorrence of Sunnis is overstated or at least not as high a priority as fighting Satan.

Dave Lankshear said...

Iraqi insurgents using Austrian rifles supplied by Iran.
Telegraph, Feb 2007
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, yesterday denied that Iran had supplied weapons to Iraqi insurgents. But on Sunday US officials in Baghdad displayed a range of weapons they claimed had originated in Iran.

They said 170 American and British soldiers had been killed by such weapons.

The discovery of the sniper rifles will further encourage those in Washington who want to see Iran's uranium-enriching facilities destroyed before a nuclear weapon is produced.


Iran trains 'thousands' of Iraqi insurgents
The Independent
Published: 15 April 2007
New York Times
The militants (and I use the word deliberately because not all are insurgents, or terrorists, or criminals; they are a mixture of them all) are well armed – probably with outside help, and probably from Iran. By motivation, essentially, and with the exception of the Al Qaeda in Iraq element who have endeavoured to exploit the situation for their own ends, our opponents are Iraqi Nationalists, and are most concerned with their own needs – jobs, money, security – and the majority are not bad people.[3]
General Sir Richard Dannatt from the UK's defence, IISS.

It's how peaceful and trustworthy the Iranians are that are that assures me they won't use the bomb.
:-(

My point regarding Jerusalem was simply to wipe Israel off the map, but hey? It could be New York, or London, or anywhere the terrorist group has a particular grudge against. Again from the Peacemaker quote, it's not about respect or honour or rational forces. It's all about the particular pathology of the man who wants just one bomb .

Iran might want to give him that bomb if he promises to nuke a "western target". That this guy might have lost his sons in an Israeli raid and see Israel as a western target might not even register with the suppliers. Or he might have lost some kids to Australian fire in Afghanistan, and want to take out Sydney. Or anywhere. That's my point, once it leaves Iran's hands who can say where or why the device might be used?

But of course these are just my paranoid, fanciful theories. Nothing remotely like this has ever happened in the real world. No rogue state wants to share it's nuclear materials, secrets, or knowledge with any other rogue state or terrorist groups. This stuff wouldn't just spread would it?

'N Korea samples' at Syrian nuke site
Abraham Rabinovich, Jerusalem
(The Australian September 24, 2007)

ISRAELI commandos seized nuclear material of North Korean origin during a daring raid on a secret military site in Syria before Israel bombed it this month, according to a report.

The Sunday Times, citing sources in Tel Aviv and Washington, reported yesterday that the US gave the nod to Israel to carry out the air strike only after it was shown the evidence, and confirmed that the samples indeed derived from North Korea.

One Salient Oversight said...

Iran, via Hezbollah, tried early on to turn Lebanon into a revolutionary Shi'a state.

They are probably helping and arming Iraqi Shi'a in the hope that parts of Iraq may join Iran or to at least further the interests of Shi'a in Iraq.

That doesn't make them terrorists.

You seem to think that it is possible for a madman to become the leader of a nation and to then use his influence to plant a nuke in Israel and stuff the consequences.

That is highly unlikely because even in a place like Iran there is politics and power struggles between politicians and clerics. It would be very unlikely that such a madman could rise to power in this situation. It is why someone like Osama Bin Laden became a terrorist rather than a president.

The Iranian political system produced the current president who is a bit too bombastic for his own good. It also produced his predecessor, who was a reformist who wanted peace and prosperity for his people.

Of all the world leaders who would be mad enough to use their nukes with no concern for the consequences, the most likely candidate lives in Washington.

And to invoke Godwin here - Germany, along with the allies, had chemical weapons during World War 2 that were never used. Even as the Soviets closed in on his bunker, Hitler never once ordered the usage of chemical weapons.

Even madmen can oftentimes see reality.

BLBeamer said...

The Iranian political system produced the current president who is a bit too bombastic for his own good. It also produced his predecessor, who was a reformist who wanted peace and prosperity for his people.
The Iranian political system produces the president the imams want. Real reformist candidates are excluded from the ballot if the imams say no. And they have said no more than once.

Of all the world leaders who would be mad enough to use their nukes with no concern for the consequences, the most likely candidate lives in Washington.
Oh, brother. G. W. Bush is not high on the list of leaders I hold in high esteem, but puh-leeze!

I thought the Reformed doctrine eschews slander. The one I grew up in does.

One Salient Oversight said...

Slander is unsubstantiated.

I think there is good reason to distrust Bush so.

After all, what world leader used their nation's armed forces to invade, conquer and destroy a Middle Eastern nation recently, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people?

I certainly would not like that on my conscience, which leads me to believe that the world leader who did it has something wrong with him.

BLBeamer said...

I think there is good reason to distrust Bush so.
You said "use their nukes with no concern for the consequences". Do you really think that G. W. Bush would use nukes without consulting the same Congress he consulted before the Iraq invasion was launched?

One Salient Oversight said...

Do you really think that G. W. Bush would use nukes without consulting the same Congress he consulted before the Iraq invasion was launched?

I'm assuming that nothing has changed since the cold war days - the president still has the authority to authorise a nuclear attack on the enemy if America comes under nuclear attack itself. See Nuclear Football.

As for the invasion of Iraq - I think that was unconstitutional. I'd be interested to hear your opinions on this article I wrote in March as well as a follow-up piece (please comment on this thread)

BLBeamer said...

I'm assuming that nothing has changed since the cold war days - the president still has the authority to authorise a nuclear attack on the enemy if America comes under nuclear attack itself.
That is a different scenario then the one you implied before: an unprovoked attack with nukes by the US.

I will read your articles and answer separately tomorrow.

One Salient Oversight said...

Well, Bush has the "football" with him at all times. Couldn't he order the defense dept to come up with a list of targets in Iran to Nuke... you know, "just in case"?

And then couldn't he, one night at 3am, get up and grab the football and "press the button"?

BLBeamer said...

I read both your articles.

Your second article concludes by calling for the impeachment of President Bush. If I understand your argument, it comes down to you disagree with the scale of the military action taken.

The Constitution says that treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors are impeachable offenses. I'm pretty sure that current legal opinion concludes that "high crimes and misdemeanors" need not be criminal in nature, but a difference of opinion as to how harshly to wage war just doesn't seem to me to be a strong case.

Dave Lankshear said...

Hi Neil,
If Iran wanted to declare war on Iraq, that might make them legal combatants. But when arms are smuggled into the country to support illegal militia, I can only call that terrorism. Unless you sympathise with Iranian efforts in Iraq so much that you want to call the Iranian backed combatants “freedom fighters” — I'd drop that line of argument.

You've expressed your empathy with Iraq strongly enough to even suggest Australia absorb so many immigrants that afterwards probably 1 in 20 Australian's would be Iraqi's. Now you're downplaying the dreadful effects of Iranian backed militia in the same country? I don't understand. Sometimes we have to call a terrorist a terrorist. Are the weapons there legally or not? Are they being used legally or not? Is this an honest war, or not? No, the Iranian militia are terrorists in my mind.

You seem to think that it is possible for a madman to become the leader of a nation and to then use his influence to plant a nuke in Israel and stuff the consequences.
Yes.


That is highly unlikely because even in a place like Iran there is politics and power struggles between politicians and clerics. It would be very unlikely that such a madman could rise to power in this situation. It is why someone like Osama Bin Laden became a terrorist rather than a president.
It's already happened.

Newsmax says


On Dec. 16, gunmen opened fire on the motorcade of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as he toured the southeastern province of Sistan, along Iran's border with Pakistan.

According to news reports, Ahmadinejad's personal bodyguard and driver were killed in the ambush, although the president was unhurt. The government-controlled media in Tehran attributed the attack to "bandits," a term used to denote a wide range of armed groups, from drug dealers to opposition guerrillas.

But in this case, the attack may have been part of a plot to remove the Iranian president by a faction within the ruling clergy. At least, so believes a Western source who has just returned from talks with top officials in Tehran.

The faction seeking to remove Ahmadinejad does not object to the substance of the Iranian president's repeated vows to "wipe Israel from the map" and destroy America. Nor do they believe Iran should abandon its secret nuclear weapons program, top Iranian government officials said, according to the source.

Rather, they object to the fact that he has made such comments openly and without ambiguity. They believe that his frankness dangerously exposes them to attack from the United States, Israel or both.

"This guy is not a politician," the source quoted one top Iranian official as saying. "He is certifiably insane. And he is obsessed with the Imam Zaman," the legendary 12th imam, or Imam Mahdi, whom many Shiite Muslims believe will return in the "end times" after a period of horrific battles, famine and pestilence.


The bottom line is: where are you going with this? Why write about Iran's “right” to nukes? I'm totally befuddled.

One Salient Oversight said...

If Iran wanted to declare war on Iraq, that might make them legal combatants. But when arms are smuggled into the country to support illegal militia, I can only call that terrorism. Unless you sympathise with Iranian efforts in Iraq so much that you want to call the Iranian backed combatants “freedom fighters” — I'd drop that line of argument.

So, you assume that for military support to be "above board" it needs to be done in a formal war situation. Any military support that is not done that way is terrorism. Interesting theory.

If that is your theory then America has been supporting terrorists over many decades, from the Afghan Mujahadeen against the Soviets to "freedom fighters" in Nicaragua and other parts of South America. America supported these organisations and helped destabilise governments in the same way as Iran is now with Iraq.

So either both America and Iran are countries that support terrorism, or neither are if you remove that theory of yours.

Remember that I'm not trying to support Iran here or to portray them as innocent. Rather, I am trying to portray them realistically - which is that they are not a threat to world peace.

Much of their support for Shi'ite militias and politicians in Iraq stems from the desire of Iraqi Shi'ites to be independent from the previous Sunni-run government under Saddam. Since Shi'a Islam is quite a minority in the world and is treated as heresy by Sunni Fundamentalists, I think the government of Iran is deliberately trying to aid the Iraqi Shi'ites in the same way as they helped Hezbollah and the Lebanese Shi'ites.

In other words, the reason for their activity in Iraq is regional and not international. They are not committed to international terrorism but to provide aid to Shi'ites who they can help. It may not be very helpful, nor may it be moral, but it is certainly understandable and not at all threatening to us here in Oz or anyone in America.

The bottom line is: where are you going with this? Why write about Iran's “right” to nukes? I'm totally befuddled.

My original article simply pointed out that any use Iran would have for nuclear weaponry would be as a defensive measure against anyone who tried to attack them first. Any Iranian nukes that may be developed are not in any way likely to be used by terrorists or be used by Iran to destroy Israel or any of its neighbours.

Moreover, I think it is far better to negotiate with Iran and provide them assurances of peace and stability rather than the sabre-rattling of true madmen like George Bush.

After America's 2003 invasion of Iraq I feel far more concerned about America's use of its nuclear arsenal than any potential amateur nuclear weapons programme an economically backward Middle Eastern state can produce.

You've expressed your empathy with Iraq strongly enough to even suggest Australia absorb so many immigrants that afterwards probably 1 in 20 Australian's would be Iraqi's.

Australia's population is 21 million. I suggested 220,000 Iraqi refugees. That would result in around 1 in 100 Australians being Iraqi. That does not threaten me.

One Salient Oversight said...

BTW that Newsmax report was quite unreliable. It would make more sense that Sunni Pashtuns crept across the border to try to get at the guy, rather than it being some dark plot by the Iranian clerics to eliminate a madman.

If Ali Khameni, the nation's supreme leader, wishes, the Iranian president could be dismissed after a trial.

See the Wikipedia article on the Supreme Leader of Iran for more details on Khameni's powers under the Iranian constitution.

One Salient Oversight said...

Meanwhile, Iranian daily Jomhouri Islami reported that President Ahmadinejad's motorcade was attacked on December 14 in south-eastern province of Sistan and Balochistan, one of the least developed areas of the country and home to intense smuggling and drug trafficking from Afghanistan.

According to the paper, the attack took place on the Zabol-Saravan highway. A presidential security guard and a motorcade driver were killed in the attack.

In Tehran yesterday, contradictory statements were released about the incident. Officials claimed that Ahmadinejad was not present at the time of the attack since he was delivering a speech in the city of Zahedan, some 250 kilometres away. The attack was not an assassination attempt against the president but a strike by "bandits" against a security detail of the presidential guard checking out the road on which the president was supposed to travel.


Source

One Salient Oversight said...

Newsmax media is a conservative news organisation.

That would be okay if they didn't make any errors in reporting.

However, errors in reporting have been found to favour conservative political beliefs.

Example

BLBeamer said...

And then couldn't he, one night at 3am, get up and grab the football and "press the button"?
No, I don't believe he could even if he wanted to. I seem to recall reading somewhere that there are security codes required to "push the button". These codes are changed often and not accessible by just one person in order to eliminate the possibility of such an occurence.

Dave Lankshear said...

If that is your theory then America has been supporting terrorists over many decades, from the Afghan Mujahadeen against the Soviets to "freedom fighters" in Nicaragua and other parts of South America. America supported these organisations and helped destabilise governments in the same way as Iran is now with Iraq.

Agreed. Are you going to see "The War On Democracy" by John Pilger?

Also, I agree that right-wing news is known for being completely "trustworthy" — that is, you can trust it to support republican actions in the world, and portray America as some kind of guardian angel. Seen "Outfoxed" or "The corporation"? It goes into Fox news and the whole conservative media spin enterprise.

I haven't even seen the Pilger documentary (above) yet think I already agree.

But what do lefty news sources make of Iran?

The Iranian leader, who has called for the destruction of Israel and questioned the Holocaust, was to address the National Press Club in Washington by video conference and to speak at Columbia University.

and...

Around 100 protesters gathered outside the university Sunday bearing placards with slogans such as "Don't give a platform to hate," and denouncing Mr Ahmadinejad as a "Hitler wannabe" and a Holocaust denier.

"There is no excuse to invite this madman, this little Hitler," New York assemblyman Dov Hikind said.


ABC

In other words, while the ABC's David and Margaret "At the movies" are happy to review Pilger positively, and seemed to agree with his premise, even they think there is a line in the sand that the Iranian president has crossed.

BLBeamer said...

I've been reading your comments regarding right wing vs. left wing news sources with interest.

Do you really maintain that all right wing news sources are inherently biased and all left wing sources are inherently truthful or objective?

That's absurd. They both make errors and they both have to make editorial judgements. It should come as no surprise that when editorial errors are made they will regularly err on the side which favors their point of view or their presuppositions. Presuppositions: everybody's got 'em.

Gentlemen, that is the beauty of a free press. If one wants to increase the chances of finding an approximation of truthful reporting, one should seek out as many sources as one can and compare.

One Salient Oversight said...

I have no problem with news sources that are biased, so long as they:

a) Are open about their bias, and
b) Do not report falsehood

The Newsmax website which I mentioned is not unreliable because it shows bias, but because it reported falsehood in order to serve that bias. Any left-wing news service that does the same should be equally panned.

Unfortunately it has been my experience that right wing news services tend to be overly biased and oftentimes report falsehoods. There aren't really any "left wing" news services unless you count the mainstream media which does actually try to be neutral (although they often end up being right wing).

BLBeamer said...

I'm unfamiliar with Newsmax but I followed the link and browsed a bit. Is it really a news service? I'm not sure I would characterize it as one based on my brief visit.

There's a difference between reporting falsehood (errors of fact) and fabricating stories. Every newspaper and wire service in the world has, at one time or other, printed falsehoods.

As a believer in the depravity of man, you seem to have added an interesting proviso: Adam's sin, imputed to all mankind, has left man in such a state that he is the enemy of God and serves only his own sinful nature unless he works for a left wing news service.

Sorry, Neil, I don't buy it, and I wonder if you really do either.

One Salient Oversight said...

As a believer in the depravity of man, you seem to have added an interesting proviso: Adam's sin, imputed to all mankind, has left man in such a state that he is the enemy of God and serves only his own sinful nature unless he works for a left wing news service.

Sorry, Neil, I don't buy it, and I wonder if you really do either.


Ah, the strawman comes out.

At this present moment in time I would argue that mainstream news services are more reliable at reporting facts and less likely to shape their reporting by bias than rightwing news services like Fox and Newsmax.

I'm not saying that they're perfect, nor am I saying that sinfulness doesn't afflict everyone.

Give it another ten years and maybe the reverse will happen, whereby rightwing news services are more accurate in their reporting and less likely to report falsehoods than the mainstream media.

BLBeamer said...

I don't know what you were referring to with your strawman comment.

As I said, I was and remain unfamiliar with Newsmax so I have no idea what they're about. It's impossible to escape Fox News here in the US so I am familiar with them. Each of us could no doubt point to individual stories that proved to be false in any randomly selected news provider. So what?

Do you really believe that such errors on the part of so-called right wing news services are more often than not purposeful, but those on the part of so-called mainstream are usually innocent? I say nonsense. What is it with people who must impute the basest motives to those who say things with which they disagree?

By the way, in the US, Fox News is the mainstream, if ratings are any indication. I have no opinion as to whether that is a good or bad thing, but it is a fact.

Dave Lankshear said...

By the way, in the US, Fox News is the mainstream, if ratings are any indication. I have no opinion as to whether that is a good or bad thing, but it is a fact.

Oh man I'm frightened if this is true — it feels right, but eeewwww.

Sorry Beamer, but even sinful human beings can learn to do their jobs properly for their own selfish reasons. Assuming sinfulness fairly equally across the board, from what I have encountered of Fox news on cable-TV I would not call it a News service but an entertainment service. It is the "News" dished up in simplified sound-bytes. Served with graphics and such incredible spin, the public are skimmed past the facts straight into the main course of the spin on those facts. They are told only the briefest of details before the whole show moves into interpreting how to react to those details. Fox News is your world served up in a patriotic bite sized pieces loyal to the American Empire. It is the McDonald's of News, serving the couch-potato public.

I can't put it any more strongly than this... Please abstain, or it will do to your mind what a McDonald's-only diet does to your body.

See Outfoxed for more.

BLBeamer said...

Please abstain, or it will do to your mind what a McDonald's-only diet does to your body.

Thanks for your concern, Dave, but don't worry about me. I get all my news from Australian blogs. :)

Oh, and I haven't eaten at Mickey D's in decades.

The sad thing is, believe it or not, Fox News is not the worst offender in the US. Fox's popularity in the US is unquestioned due to the fact that the legacy networks developed the reputation as being un-serious, biased and elitist, but worst of all, boring. These things are all true and created the opportunity that Fox exploited. Which is why I don't get most of my news from the television.

What I don't understand is why Fox News is singled out for criticism, while the others, who display the same characteristics described (in some cases worse) are given an almost-free pass. I have to believe it is due to the fact that Fox is perceived as right wing and the others aren't.

That was behind my comment about man's sinfulness being universal. In my experience, way too often political ideology trumps doctrine. I know it did at the Christian web site I mentioned some time ago on another post.