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November 15, 2006

Cell phone on a train

Yesterday, I took the train to New York for the funeral of my good friend's mother. On the way home last night, I was sitting in a car of the train that was probably only half full, and the people were relatively well behaved. A conversation behind me was a little louder than I would have liked, but otherwise quiet reigned.

Then I noticed a scrolling message on the message board about being considerate in the use of cell phones on the train. By coincidence, the phone of the guy sitting right in front of me rang at that very moment, and he began a conversation that sounded loud, but I guess it really was only at normal conversational volume in an otherwise quiet train car. My irritation meter rose quickly, but then I began to listen to his end of the conversation, which turned out to be quite interesting.

He told the caller he had gone to New York to talk to Shep Smith on Studio B. Based on the ensuing conversation, I looked up Studio B, which I've never seen, when I got home, and I think I must have been seated behind Alireza Jafarzadeh, identified as a FOX News foreign affairs analyst in the clip called "Nuclear Showdown."

If you're going to conduct an interesting conversation on your cell phone about what to do with Iran, and you speak at normal conversational volume on a quiet train, I guess that nothing you say can be considered very private. On this theory, I wrote down a few things he said, not in any organized way, but the way I heard them. These are only excerpts. I'm leaving out a bunch of stuff about his conversations with congressmen, because I suspect the person on the other end was a staffer and I guess I feel they're just too personal. And besides, I'm not some major media outlet. Here goes:

In the conversation, he said he thinks Ahmadinejad is serious about his statement that there will be a new advancement announced in February. We should be concerned. What needs to be done is to "slay the dragon." This is the time to do it. The "one opportune moment" to do it is now.

The real trouble in Iraq is Iran's meddling, not that Bush didn't do the job. The strategy shouldn't be cut and run but more focus on the source of the problems -- Iran. The "pressure's off" with the departure of Secretary Rumsfeld.

We need to improve participation of the Sunnis, who are in danger of being shut out by the dominant Shiites. We need to disarm the militias, including the Mahdi Army. The President has said this, but it hasn't happened. Iran is preventing it. The real fight in Iraq is between the U.S. and Iran.

"No way" Ahmadinejad will back down unless faced with "decisiveness and firmness." Unfortunately, he hasn't gotten that in the past year and a half. Iran has to feel serious pressure. One way is to increase support for the Iranian opposition to show "we now mean business." Then they'll take us seriously and get scared. No real teeth in sanctions. The Achilles Heel of the ayatollahs is their domestic problems. Many (I think I heard the figure 4,000) anti-government demonstrations in the past year; that's where we need to focus. If we invite the opposition leader to this country, "they'll go crazy."

He also criticized the State Department extensively, which amused me no end.

I think the guy's book might be really interesting.