Iran- A Very Dangerous Game

I have been paying very close attention to the rhetoric being spewed out from Tehran. Ahmadinejad is one scary fellow. I encourage you to use the links to all three stories and read them in their entirety.

“TEHRAN, Iran — The president of Iran again lashed out at Israel on Friday and said it was “heading toward annihilation,” just days after Tehran raised fears about its nuclear activities by saying it successfully enriched uranium for the first time.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel a “permanent threat” to the Middle East that will “soon” be liberated. He also appeared to again question whether the Holocaust really happened.

“Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation,” Ahmadinejad said at the opening of a conference in support of the Palestinians. “The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm.”

Ahmadinejad provoked a world outcry in October when he said Israel should be “wiped off the map.”

I take him very seriously. As I said in an earlier post:

“I think that history has demonstrated that one should always pay attention when someone says that they are going to try and exterminate you.”

I am not happy about any of this because I just see it leading to war. I have a couple of selections from Victor David Hanson and Mark Steyn to share with you.

Steyn writes:

“With the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, a British subject, Tehran extended its contempt for sovereignty to claiming jurisdiction over the nationals of foreign states, passing sentence on them, and conscripting citizens of other countries to carry it out. Iran’s supreme leader instructed Muslims around the world to serve as executioners of the Islamic Republic—and they did, killing not Rushdie himself but his Japanese translator, and stabbing the Italian translator, and shooting the Italian publisher, and killing three dozen persons with no connection to the book when a mob burned down a hotel because of the presence of the novelist’s Turkish translator.

Iran’s de facto head of state offered a multimillion-dollar bounty for a whack job on an obscure English novelist. And, as with the embassy siege, he got away with it.

In the latest variation on Marx’s dictum, history repeats itself: first, the unreadable London literary novel; then, the Danish funny pages. But in the 17 years between the Rushdie fatwa and the cartoon jihad, what was supposedly a freakish one-off collision between Islam and the modern world has become routine. We now think it perfectly normal for Muslims to demand the tenets of their religion be applied to society at large: the government of Sweden, for example, has been zealously closing down websites that republish those Danish cartoons. As Khomeini’s successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, has said, “It is in our revolution’s interest, and an essential principle, that when we speak of Islamic objectives, we address all the Muslims of the world.” Or as a female Muslim demonstrator in Toronto put it: “We won’t stop the protests until the world obeys Islamic law.”

If that’s a little too ferocious, Kofi Annan framed it rather more soothingly: “The offensive caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were first published in a European country which has recently acquired a significant Muslim population, and is not yet sure how to adjust to it.”

If you’ve also “recently acquired” a significant Muslim population and you’re not sure how to “adjust” to it, well, here’s the difference: back when my Belgian grandparents emigrated to Canada, the idea was that the immigrants assimilated to the host country. As Kofi and Co. see it, today the host country has to assimilate to the immigrants: if Islamic law forbids representations of the Prophet, then so must Danish law, and French law, and American law. Iran was the progenitor of this rapacious extraterritoriality, and, if we had understood it more clearly a generation ago, we might be in less danger of seeing large tracts of the developed world being subsumed by it today.”

And

“The question then arises, what do they want them for?

By way of illustration, consider the country’s last presidential election. The final round offered a choice between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an alumnus of the U.S. Embassy siege a quarter-century ago, and Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of the Expediency Council, which sounds like an EU foreign policy agency but is, in fact, the body that arbitrates between Iran’s political and religious leaderships. Ahmadinejad is a notorious shoot-from-the-lip apocalyptic hothead who believes in the return of the Twelfth (hidden) Imam and quite possibly that he personally is his designated deputy, and he’s also claimed that when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly last year a mystical halo appeared and bathed him in its aura. Ayatollah Rafsanjani, on the other hand, is one of those famous “moderates.”

What’s the difference between a hothead and a moderate? Well, the extremist Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” while the moderate Rafsanjani has declared that Israel is “the most hideous occurrence in history,” which the Muslim world “will vomit out from its midst” in one blast, because “a single atomic bomb has the power to completely destroy Israel, while an Israeli counter-strike can only cause partial damage to the Islamic world.” Evidently wiping Israel off the map seems to be one of those rare points of bipartisan consensus in Tehran, the Iranian equivalent of a prescription drug plan for seniors: we’re just arguing over the details.

So the question is: Will they do it?

Victor David Hanson shares the following thoughts:

“…the Iranians are engaged in a three-part strategy to obtain nuclear weapons. First, they conduct military exercises, showing off novel weapons systems with purportedly exotic capabilities, while threatening to unleash terror against global commerce and the United States. It may be a pathetic and circus-like exercise born of desperation, but the point of such military antics is to show the West there will be some real costs to taking out Iranian nuclear installations.

Second, Iranians simultaneously send out their Westernized diplomats to the U.N. and the international media to sound sober, judicious, and aggrieved — pleading that a victimized Iran only wants peaceful nuclear energy and has been unfairly demonized by an imperialistic United States. The well-spoken professionals usually lay out all sorts of protocols and talking-points, all of which they will eventually subvert — except the vacuous ones which lead nowhere, but nevertheless appeal to useful Western idiots of the stripe that say “Israel has a bomb, so let’s be fair.”

Third, they talk, talk, talk — with the Europeans, Chinese, Russians, Hugo Chavez, anyone and everyone, and as long as possible — in order to draw out the peace-process and buy time in the manner of the Japanese militarists of the late 1930s, who were still jawing about reconciliation on December 7, 1941, in Washington.

During this tripartite approach, the Iranians take three steps forward, then one back, and end up well on their way to acquiring nuclear weapons. Despite all the passive-aggressive noisemaking, they push insidiously onward with development, then pause when they have gone too far, allow some negotiations, then are right back at it. And we know why: nuclear acquisition for Iran is a win-win proposition.

If they obtain an Achaemenid bomb and restore lost Persian grandeur, it will remind a restless population that the theocrats are nationalists after all, not just pan-Islamic provocateurs. A nuclear Iran can create all sorts of mini-crises in the Gulf — on a far smaller scale than Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait — which could spike oil prices, given the omnipresence of the Iranian atomic genie. The Persian Gulf, given world demand for oil, is a far more fragile landscape than in 1991.”

Scary stuff, just very frightening. Unless something major takes place I sadly lay my money down on black. We will officially be at war with Iran in the not so distant future.

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8 Comments

  1. Jack's Shack April 18, 2006 at 7:16 am

    Jac,

    If only that man didn’t have access to the military.

  2. jac April 17, 2006 at 7:39 am

    It is just like a harmless man taking a drink too strong and then being too brave.

  3. Zeruel April 17, 2006 at 7:33 am

    Ahmadinejad is a pretty harmless nutjob. I wouldn’t take him too seriously. The real power in Iran resides in the clergery; the guardian council and ayatollah Khamenei.

  4. Jack's Shack April 16, 2006 at 5:27 pm

    Zeruel,

    There is no explanation of context here. One can maintain their reputation by threatening a very powerful and aggressive response to any threat.

    But saying that you are going to annihilate another country is different.

    Here is a major distinction. One is a “defensive response” and the other is “offensive.”

  5. Zeruel April 16, 2006 at 9:46 am

    “He has repeatedly threatened the existence of a sovreign nation. He also claimed that when he addressed the UN last September a light surrounded his head and that the leaders all unblinkingly watched him.”

    You have to see that in the proper context. The pressure on Iran and the threats towards it diminished the pro-reformist stance of the relatively moderate Khatami. By alienating the country through demonization you will slowly extinguish the sympathy of the widespread pro-western student movements and throw the country years back into time.

    By placing Iran on the ‘axis of evil’ and not excluding military reprisals if the country does not conform to U.S. demands; there will be a spastic backlash of hollow threats in the form of mr. Ahmadinejad.

    You know that in the middle-east it is all about reputation. Bending to the U.S. and surrendering the nuclear program will be seen as a sign of weakness. With all consequences that come out of that.

    The sudden introvert islamic nationalism can be seen as a result of isolating the country at a moment that is was slowly moving towards reform. That is what U.S. hardliners already have accomplished.

    And Iran is not Iraq. They have an organized army. And inspite of the nutty Amhmadinejad, they have a competent diplomatic delegation. Nothwithstanding Ahmadinejad, the country follows a course of ratio. There is no existing or acute threat so war is not an option. Ofcourse the U.S. can bomb the country with airstrikes as some officials told Seymour Hersh, but this will never be mandated by international law, and therefore will be illegal. If you really want to go into that road again…

  6. Jack's Shack April 15, 2006 at 5:51 pm

    War is not an option.

    No Zeruel, War is the option. Unless he changes his tune he is going to be taken down.

    Sabre rattling is what you do when you promise great pain and suffering as retaliation for being attacked.

    He has repeatedly threatened the existence of a sovreign nation. He also claimed that when he addressed the UN last September a light surrounded his head and that the leaders all unblinkingly watched him.

    He is dangerous.

    Jac,

    I pray that I am wrong, but I don’t see much evidence to suggest that.

  7. jac April 15, 2006 at 11:30 am

    I agree with zeruel.
    I too feel that they are playing a calculated game of deterrence.

  8. Zeruel April 15, 2006 at 9:17 am

    War is not an option. This sabre rattling by Ahmedinejad is part of the show. The country feels threatened and decides to return the favor. Iran knows that if it would ever deploy a nuclear missile that the retalitory strike would obliterate the republic. The true intent of this ‘very dangerous game’ is self-preservation. If you poke Iran they will make some noise. Nothing serious but political opportunists will capitilize on it by deliberately trying to let things spiral out of control(see Iraq).

    Iran fears it’s existence and therefore it wants to deter; and this explains it’s nuclear program and protracted obscurity.

    From a technical standpoint they are still years away form an actual weapon. They have not yet the capacity to cascade enough ultra-centrifuges to enrich uranium from 3,5%(what they have now) towards atleast 18% needed for a bomb. And their uranium hexafluoride(UF6) inhibits molybdeen decreasing the purity of U35. It would be unlikely they would waste their centrifuges with impure uranium.

    They have to get more cascades and solve the molybdeen issue. This will take years. The Russians have tackled the molybdeen problem but it is unlikely they will explain it to the Iranians in the current diplomatic climate.

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