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CATEGORY: Iran, War on Terror

The Tale of the Scorpion is an old Native American parable.

A scorpion was walking along the bank of a river, wondering how to get to the other side. Suddenly, he saw a fox. He asked the fox to take him on his back across the river.

The fox said, “No. If I do that, you’ll sting me, and I’ll drown.”

The scorpion assured him, “If I do that, we’ll both drown.”

The fox thought about it and finally agreed. So the scorpion climbed up on his back, and the fox began to swim. But halfway across the river, the scorpion stung him. As poison filled his veins, the fox turned to the scorpion and said, “Why did you do that? Now you’ll drown, too.”

“I couldn’t help it,” said the scorpion. “It’s my nature.”

Amir Taheri (writing to Norman Podhoretz) believes he knows the true nature of the Iranian regime:

What is at issue here is the exact nature of the Khomeinist regime. Is it a nationalistic power pursuing the usual goals of nations? Or is it a messianic power with an eschatological ideology and the pretension to conquer the world on behalf of “The One and Only True Faith”?

Khomeini built a good part of his case against the Shah by claiming that the latter was trying to force Iranians to worship Iran rather than Allah. The theme remains a leitmotif of Khomeinists even today. . . . Those who try to portray this regime as just another opportunistic power with a quixotic tendency do a grave disservice to a proper understanding of the challenge that the world faces.

But this is not new. Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot also had their apologists who saw them as “nationalists” with “legitimate grievances.”

Okay, Sounds believable given the rhetoric we’ve been hearing for 25 years from the regime. But Taheri does not enjoy universal respectability regarding his opinions on Iran. He has been caught at least twice in making false charges about the Iranian government and some scholars accuse him of poorly sourcing his writings.

Even if we were to take Mr. Taheri’s analysis as truth, according to Michael Eisenstadt writing for the Strategic Studies Institute, a respected arm of the US Army War College, the idea that the mullahs are “an irrational, undeterrable state with a high pain threshold” is both “anachronistic and wrong:”

Within the context of a relatively activist foreign policy, Iranian decision makers have generally sought to minimize risk by shunning direct confrontation and by acting through surrogates (such as the Lebanese Hizballah) or by means of stealth (Iranian small boat and mine operations against shipping in the Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War) in order to preserve deniability and create ambiguity about their intentions. Such behavior is evidence of an ability to engage in rational calculation and to accurately assess power relationships.
(“Deter and Contain,” pg. 225)

And herein lies the dilemma for American and western policymakers with regards to Iran and the regime’s desire to possess the ultimate insurance against anyone publishing insulting cartoons of Muhammad ever again. Just who are these guys?

As far as Taheri, I have found his insights into the regime affected by his obvious disgust for what the mullahs have done to his country. That said, his columns and writings in various publications have shown a light in some very dark corners of the Iranian government.

At its highest levels, the mullahracy is riven with factionalism. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei rides herd on at least 3 major centers of power; President Ahmadinejad conservatives, Ayatollah Rafsanjani realists, and Mohammad Khatami reformists. Of these, the most marginalized at the moment are the reformers, some of whom are actually under house arrest, including a couple of prominent clerics.

Rafsanjani, the canny, ex-president is making something of a political comeback after getting tossed from the presidency in 2005 by Khamenei who couldn’t take his gross corruption (Forbes named him one of the richest men in the world). He is now safely ensconced in the Assembly of Experts, elected last December on an anti-Ahmadinejad platform, and maneuvering his way toward the most powerful office in the land- Supreme Leader. Khamenei is rumored to be in poor health (he’s been on death’s door according to some for about 2 years).

To say that Rafsanjani is a “moderate” is ridiculous. He is as fanatical in his hatred of the United States and Israel as President Ahmadinejad. He may be more of a pragmatist, however, in that he certainly has a lot to protect in case of an attack by the US. Regardless, Rafsanjani is also perhaps the most ruthless character in Iranian politics. It is believed that he controls several para-military gangs who carry out murders and assassinations on his orders. Certainly, enough of his enemies have died for there to be questions asked.

He is at war with President Ahmadinejad and the conservatives not over dogma or ideology but because Ahmadinejad has purged the bureaucracy of Rafsanjani (and other long ruling mullahs) cronies who always managed to funnel a little something to their sponsors in the leadership in the way of kickbacks or sweet government contracts. For 25 years, first Khomeini and then Khamenei turned a blind eye to this corruption, realizing that it cemented the loyalty of the mullahs to the Supreme Leader’s throne.

But with the economy in the toilet and the people becoming cynical about the mullahs, Khamenei engineered the election of Ahmadinejad hoping the young fanatic would root out corruption and boost the economy.

It hasn’t worked. Ahmadinejad purged the ministries alright but he replaced competent technocrats with true believers who hadn’t a clue about how a modern state operates. The results were predictable; economic stagnation, higher unemployment, high inflation, and a decrease in oil productivity that would be much more noticeable if prices were any lower.

These then are the factions vying for control of the Iranian state – at odds over personalities, policies, and most importantly, who has the power.

Taheri and Podhoretz may very well be correct in their assessment of the way Ayatollah Khomenie believed more in pan-Islamism than nationalism. But does that still hold true today? Do these squabbling, greedy, kleptocrats really believe in Khomeini’s pan-Islamic vision?

It is impossible to say. And the question is can we afford to misjudge the true nature of the regime? Either way western leaders jump regarding Iran – bombing or deterrence – both choices are bad choices with catastrophe possible no matter what the decision might be.

If the Iranians don’t care about Iran, only Islam, deterrence will not work. And while bombing their infrastructure will set their program back a few years, what they will unleash in retaliation causes nightmares at the Pentagon, the State Department, and in the minds of any rational person.

But if the Iranian regime is not bound by the normal constraints of deterrence, what option do we really have? If they are able to acquire the ability to build a nuclear weapon and intend on using it, prudence dictates we try and prevent that eventuality at all costs.

On the other hand, what if the true nature of the regime is as posited by the Army War College? While the mullah’s worldview may be anachronistic and twisted, they nevertheless may very well respond reasonably to the threat of retaliation by the Israelis or the United States. In this case, they may have the bomb – but possess it only as a guarantor of the regime not as an offensive threat. If we chose to bomb, we would unleash Iranian retaliation when it was not necessary.

I think my rundown above of the factions in Iran shows there are probably both camps at large and are currently in a tug of war. The conservatives, despite poor performance by Ahmadinejad and electoral setbacks are still marginally in control. But Khamenei still has his finger on any nuclear trigger and while he sides with the conservatives on occasion, he has not been reluctant to slap Ahmadinejad publicly and put him in his place – as he did last summer when he had parliament pass a new electoral law that will shave around 14 months off of Ahmadinejad’s term.

The bottom line is that there really is no way of gleaning the true intent of the Iranian regime because of the shifting sands of power that has been the hallmark of the mullahs since Khomeini’s time. The American hostages were pawns in this game back in 1980 while the British sailors taken earlier this year also became hostage to the competition at the highest levels of the regime.

To bomb or not to bomb. There is only one right answer. And I’m glad I’m not going to be the one who has to make the decision.

By: Rick Moran at 7:55 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

CATEGORY: Decision '08, Iran

Step outside your door and smell the air. Go ahead, take a whiff. What do you smell?

The stink of war is in the air.

Whether this is an atmosphere deliberately fostered by those in the Administration who wish to insure that Iran does not develop the capability to construct a nuclear weapons or whether there truly are signs that the world is preparing for the worst if we attempt to take out Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is impossible to tell. That’s because the consequences of such an attack simply cannot be foreseen. As hard as we try to game out all the scenarios of the attack, there is a real and palpable sense that the dominoes are all set up and ready to topple if we were to go ahead and do what many believe needs to be done to protect our friends and keep The Bomb out of the hands of those seen as irresponsible, messianic fanatics.

It was different with Iraq. Many of those who gave lip service to condemning our attack were privately cheering us on, seeing the toppling of Saddam as a desirable end. But the confrontation with Iran is much more complex and problematic undertaking. There is the real possibility that the Iranians would unleash their proxy armies in Lebanon and Iraq not to mention goading Syria into attacking. If that were to happen – and it is difficult to imagine a reason Iran would forgo the opportunity – the very real possibility of a general Middle East war with the rest of the world choosing sides is not beyond imagining.

A worst case scenario? Pie in the sky fear mongering? Idiotic speculation? Ask the Pentagon. Even the best case scenario involves risks for our troops in Iraq not to mention Israeli civilians. The point is simple; war with Iran involves tremendous risks. And the startling realization is that the best we can do is set back the Iranian nuclear program a few years.

Is it worth risking so much for a gain of so little?

Proponents of bombing Iran point to the possibility of regime change, whether as a result of our attacks or due to encouraging those already fighting the Islamic regime. I reject the liberal argument being made that this would be as bad as bombing. Their reasoning (or lack thereof) is that fomenting revolution is an act of war in and of itself.

Let me know when the left is through wringing its hands that nothing can be done about the possibility of Iranian nukes. Then the grown ups can allow them back into the conversation. After all, they refuse to acknowledge that Iran considers itself already at war with America, having demonstrated that fact time and time again since 1979. Anything short of endless, fruitless negotiations (“As long as we’re talking, we’re not shooting at each other.”) is neocon warmongering in their view.

But an exception to that liberal futility is surprisingly coming from Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama. In an interview with the New York Times, Obama outlines a very interesting diplomatic scenario that includes some pretty strong incentives for the Iranians as well as the outline of a “Grand Bargain” on Iraq:

In an hourlong interview on Wednesday, Mr. Obama made clear that forging a new relationship with Iran would be a major element of what he pledged would be a broad effort to stabilize Iraq as he executed a speedy timetable for the withdrawal of American combat troops.

Mr. Obama said that Iran had been “acting irresponsibly” by supporting Shiite militant groups in Iraq. He also emphasized that Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program and its support for “terrorist activities” were serious concerns.

But he asserted that Iran’s support for militant groups in Iraq reflected its anxiety over the Bush administration’s policies in the region, including talk of a possible American military strike on Iranian nuclear installations.

Making clear that he planned to talk to Iran without preconditions, Mr. Obama emphasized further that “changes in behavior” by Iran could possibly be rewarded with membership in the World Trade Organization, other economic benefits and security guarantees.

“We are willing to talk about certain assurances in the context of them showing some good faith,” he said in the interview at his campaign headquarters here. “I think it is important for us to send a signal that we are not hellbent on regime change, just for the sake of regime change, but expect changes in behavior. And there are both carrots and there are sticks available to them for those changes in behavior.”

Obama is not the first to propose such a quid pro quo; guaranteeing Iranian sovereignty in return for constructive engagement by the mullahs in Iraq. I wrote about it many months ago, drawing a parallel with the resolution of the Cuban missile crisis and Kennedy’s pledge to respect Cuban sovereignty:

Kruschev wrote in his memoirs that the reasons he placed missiles in Cuba in the first place was to redress what the Russians saw as a strategic imbalance between the two countries and to protect his client from a Bay of Pigs repeat. The missiles were removed only after Kennedy promised privately to retire the obsolete Jupiter missiles based in Turkey (which were as provocative from the Soviet point of view as missiles in Cuba were to the United States) and a further guarantee that the Americans would not invade or use a proxy army to overthrow Castro. Later, Bobby Kennedy reasoned that such a promise did not include attempts to assassinate Castro, which continued until at least 1965.

Would such a Quid Pro Quo work with the Iranians? Could we guarantee the sovereignty of the Iranian state in exchange for intrusive inspections by the IAEA and a promise by the mullahs not to enrich uranium?

All would depend on whether or not the leaders of Iran are indeed rational and fear war with the United States and the destruction of their regime. And much would also depend on the IAEA, an organization that would have to prove itself to be more than the nuclear enabler it has been in the past.

There are other carrots we can hold out to the Iranians including unlimited access to enriched uranium for their power plants as well as joint enrichment projects on Iranian soil with other nuclear powers. These are similar deals we’re making with the North Koreans and hold out the promise to end the threat of nuclear weapons from that country.

I realize my conservative brethren are rolling their eyes and shaking their heads at this point. The IAEA? ElBaradei’s nuclear enablers? Obviously, such a deal would depend on full disclosure of the Iranian nuclear program and unconditional cooperation by the mullahs in the kind of monitoring and inspection regimes that would be effective. It would take time to negotiate and set up and in the end, may not even be 100% satisfactory to the United States and our allies.

But as an alternative to war, it’s a good start.

I don’t believe an Obama Administration should be the entity to negotiate such a deal. I prefer a little more steel in the backbone of our negotiators. Perhaps a Clinton or Giuliani Administration would be able to accomplish more given both candidates statements on their willingness to confront the Iranians militarily if negotiations fail.

The point is that negotiations are going to occur one way or another prior to the outbreak of hostilities. What are we prepared to offer in order to get what we want? A package of incentives that include a promise not to invade Iran or support groups that wish to overthrow the mullahs may – just may – be enough of temptation to the Iranians for them to talk about their nuclear enrichment program in the past tense.

We may very well one day be forced to prevent the unthinkable reality of Iranian nuclear weapons by bombing them. But war should only be considered after all diplomatic options have been exhausted. And this is one option I think we can’t afford not to try.

By: Rick Moran at 6:36 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (14)


The driver of the yellow Mercedes Benz truck in Beirut that awful day 24 years ago knew precisely where to go. According to intelligence reports, two members of what was then the underground terrorist organization known as Hizbullah had mapped the layout of the Marine barracks so that the suicide bomber could carry out his mission to maximum effect. He knew the Marines pulling sentry duty had pocketed their ammo clips thanks to some ridiculous rules of engagement. And he was aware that there were no barriers protecting the structure so that his truck laden with 12,000 pounds of explosives would only have to crash through ordinary wood and plaster in order to be positioned perfectly so that detonation would have catastrophic effects on the building.

The truck had apparently been prepared with the help of Syrians and Iranians in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon where several Revolutionary Guard units had been stationed under Syrian protection. An NSA intercept revealed at a trial that convicted the Islamic Republic of Iran of being behind the attack, stated that a message sent from Iranian intelligence headquarters in Tehran toAli-Akbar Mohtashemi, the Iranian ambassador in Damascus and directed the Iranian ambassador to get in touch with Islamic Amal which has since been identified as the military arm of Hizbullah at the time, and instruct him to “take spectacular action” against the Marines.

When the bomb detonated, it may have been the largest non-nuclear explosion in history up to that time (we used the “Daisy Cutter” in Afghanistan which weighs 15,000 lbs). The entire barracks building was lifted off its foundation and when it came down, it collapsed in a heap of cinder blocks, plaster, and dust. A few seconds after the blast, another suicide truck bomber crashed into the French military headquarters detonating a similar device. All told, 241 Americans lost their lives in the blast. Another 58 French paratroopers died in the other attack that day. It was the worst day for the Marines since the battle of Iwo Jima and the worst day for the US military since the first day of the Tet Offensive in Viet Nam.

While it is not a rock solid certainty that Hizbullah, acting on direct orders from Iran, was behind the attacks, the preponderance of evidence certainly points that way. At the time, Hizbullah was in its initial stages of formation, being trained by Revolutionary Guard units who had infiltrated Lebanon through Syria. At first, Hizbullah was not an independent actor in Lebanon, receiving its orders directly from Khomenei’s Iran. The US had just given Sadaam Hussein more than two billion dollars in aid to fight Iran and the thinking is that Khomenei wanted to get back at the US for our support of Iraq. When US forces pulled out the following February, it was simply gravy from the Iranian point of view.

So for 24 years, we have been in an undeclared war with Hizbullah and, by extension, Iran. Or, at least Iran has been at war with us. We have pretended that no such conflict exists under successive US presidents, Republican and Democratic, liberal and conservative. Occasionally, history intervenes and tries to rouse us out of this stupor but so far, to no avail. In 1984, Hizbullah attacked our embassy, killing 5 Americans. In 1985, TWA flight 847 was hijacked by Hizbullah and a Navy diver was savagely beaten to death. They kidnapped and murdered CIA officer William Buckley and Colonel William Higgins, a Marine serving with the UN at the time. (They were kind enough to forward videos of the murders to our government). They fired on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. They have operated around the world, killing Jews wherever there’s a soft enough target to hit.

To this day, Hizbullah is beholden to Iran, getting all of its funding and weapons as well as its training through the Revolutionary Guards. They receive an estimated $250 million a year – by far and away the largest recipient of Iranian foreign aid. Their fighters are trained in Iran, indoctrinated in Iran, and are more loyal to the “Islamic Revolution” than they are to Lebanon.

And yet, there are those who are serious when they proclaim they don’t want us to “start” a war with Iran.

This is worse than madness. It is deliberate, self deluded suicide not to recognize Iran as deadly enemy of the United States. Bombing and invading is not the answer, although as the last option available, it may come to that. But we should have absolutely no qualms about attempting to undermine the government of Iran and work for regime change – peacefully if at all possible. But ultimately, the only peaceful solution would be if the Iranian people themselves overthrew the corrupt and messianic mullahs who currently run that country.

It was 24 years ago today that Hizbullah, acting under what is believed to be the direct orders of Iran, made their largest and most successful attack against America. Their masters in Tehran have since been challenging us at every turn, testing our resolve and going so far as to assist our enemies in Iraq. The question now isn’t if a showdown will occur but when.

I don’t know if violence can be avoided. I know we must try to do so because the consequences of war with Iran for the entire world would be profoundly dangerous and destabilizing. But the threat Iran poses is intolerable and must be dealt with – one way or another.

UPDATE 10/25:

Reader Mike emails with a correction:

The “Grand Slam” bomb of WWII, weighing 22,000 lbs and dropped from a British Lancaster bomber, was larger.

And for that matter, accidental ammunition explosions of WWI and WWII, in Halifax N.S., Texas, the Bay Area and IIRC, Eniwetok Atoll, each involved several thousand tons of munitions.

I should have mentioned above that the statement about the barracks bomb being the largest explosion ever up to that time was actually from a quote by the trial judge in the suit against the Iranians.

Obviously, he didn’t know what he was talking about – any more than I did.

Thanks to Mike for the correction.

By: Rick Moran at 2:16 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)

Blogs 4 Brownback linked with The Splodydopes Started It...
CATEGORY: Ethics, Iran

I didn’t think it was possible but I’m beginning to feel sorry for Columbia University President Lee Bollinger. His speech of introduction on Monday for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has created a vicious backlash on the left over his use of some rather colorful metaphors to describe Ahmadinejad’s anti-intellectual, anti-humanist ideas.

A backlash against the president of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, who on Monday delivered a harsh rebuke to President Ahmadinejad, is coming from faculty members and students who said he struck an “insulting tone” and that his remarks amounted to “schoolyard taunts.” The fierceness of Mr. Bollinger’s critique bought the Iranian some sympathy on campus that he didn’t deserve, the critics said, and amounted to a squandered opportunity to provide a lesson in diplomacy.

What this is really all about is that the left can’t stand it when one of their own is being praised by the right for doing anything. In their universe, Bollinger could have hung Ahmadinejad in effigy and as long as no one on the right took notice, it would have been perfectly acceptable.

For you see, Bollinger did nothing and said nothing that wasn’t absolutely, 100% true and documented. He threw the tyrant’s words back in his face and challenged him to justify them. He highlighted documented incidents in the Islamic “Republic” of Iran where homosexuals were executed. He quoted Ahmadinejad’s thoughts on the Holocaust and called him a dunce – which describes exactly the intellectual acumen of someone who believes the murder of 6 million Jews “needs further study.”

His manners? I’m not sure here what the left is criticizing. I thought “manners” were superfluous when speaking truth to power. Isn’t that what Bollinger was doing? Who cares about superficialities when the important thing is to be authentically outraged?

And does the supreme irony of criticizing someone for the way they confront the opposition totally escape these clueless buffoons?

It’s odd to invite someone and then deal with the objections to inviting him by insulting him before he gets to talk,” a professor of political science at Columbia, Richard Betts, said during an interview in his office yesterday. “He’s having it both ways in a sense, honoring the principle of free speech by not choosing speakers on the basis of how nice they are, but being sharp to him before he speaks.”

Mr. Betts said a more appropriate introduction would have been to make clear that an invitation to speak at Columbia did not qualify as approval of the content of the speech. He said the message should have been delivered as a “less in-your-face assault.”

Jesus Lord! How many times have we heard the left praising those who get “in the face” of people like George Bush or Rumsefeld or any number of conservative pundits like Ann Coulter or Jonah Goldberg? Stephen Colbert ring a bell? Or war protestors who shout like maniacs wherever Bush shows up to speak? Or on college campuses where conservative pundits are regularly confronted in the most insulting, vulgar manner?

I guess “manners” and avoiding “in your face” confrontations only count when you’re trying to spare the feelings of a terrorist supporting scumbag like Ahmadinejad.

And then there’s this bit of obtuseness that I would guess to be a widely held belief on the left:

The professor of history and Iranian expert who had a role in bringing Mr. Ahmadinejad to campus, Richard Bulliet, said that if Mr. Bollinger led a mission of faculty and students to Iran, which he has expressed interest in doing, he would likely receive a more courteous welcome than was provided to Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Yes, I have no doubt that is true. The Iranians are a polite people and follow all the normal customs of civilized humanity. Except the left largely rejects those customs as either representative of bourgeois thinking or artificial cultural constructs created by white males to oppress freedom loving lefties. Rejecting polite behavior allows one to justify getting up in the middle of someone’s speech and trying to shout them down – a favorite tactic of the left for 40 years.

How about practicing what you preach here, fellows? How about criticizing Code Pink every time the witches interrupt Congressional hearings or speeches from people they disagree with? How about wagging a disapproving finger at Mama Sheehan when she tries to disrupt the State of the Union?

Instead, all we hear is praise for such rude, boorish behavior. “Speaking truth to power” is great – as long as the right people are doing the speaking and the wrong people are in power.

Bollinger has little about which to feel proud. Not because of what he said but because of the moral blinkers he put on in order to accede to Ahmadinejad’s visit in the first place. Academic freedom is a fine and noble concept, one I support wholeheartedly. But judging by the worldwide reaction to Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia, it appears that Bollinger and the University were nothing more than props in the Iranian president’s propaganda performance. He was warned that this would happen and indeed it did.

In that sense, academic freedom is meaningless when it is used in the cause of promoting the agenda of America’s enemies.


Malkin picks up where I left off yesterday with the bedwetting meme by linking to this idiotic post from a lefty who accuses conservatives of destroying the American “character” and wonders if we’ll ever “recover:”

Here’s a big question that I want to start addressing in upcoming posts: what is conservative rule doing to our nation’s soul? How is it rewiring our hearts and minds? What kind of damage are they doing to the American character? And can we ever recover?

So: what is the American character? Hard to say, of course. But I daresay we know it when we see it. Let me put before you an illustrative example: one week in September of 1959, when, much like one week in September of 2007, American soil supported a visit by what many, if not most Americans agreed was the most evil and dangerous man on the planet.

Nikita Khrushchev disembarked from his plane at Andrews Air Force Base to a 21-gun salute and a receiving line of 63 officials and bureaucrats, ending with President Eisenhower. He rode 13 miles with Ike in an open limousine to his guest quarters across from the White House. Then he met for two hours with Ike and his foreign policy team. Then came a white-tie state dinner. (The Soviets then put one on at the embassy for Ike.) He joshed with the CIA chief about pooling their intelligence data, since it probably all came from the same people—then was ushered upstairs to the East Wing for a leisurely gander at the Eisenhowers’ family quarters.

This guy is accusing conservatives of being bedwetters while wringing his hands like an old woman over whether or not we can “recover” from conservatism?

What an idiot.

And I’d like to briefly address this idea that Iran and Ahmadinejad should be seen as no more of a challenge – even less of one – that the old Soviet Union.

It isn’t that the Iranians are suicidal (I am not entirely convinced that they aren’t but I think there are enough rational heads in the Iranian government to prevent anyone from going off the deep end) and it isn’t the fact that we are dealing with mystics and religious fanatics. There were some pretty fanatical communists we had to deal with over the years – including Kruschev himself who firmly believed in the “science” of Marxism which posited the theory that capitalism, like feudalism, was destined to fail and be replaced by Soviet Style “scientific” socialism. It was his religion and he truly believed that he would see this collapse in his lifetime.

Later Soviet leaders were much more cynical about Marxism, having no illusions about its ability to compete with capitalism in any real way. Their concern was simply to maintain their positions of privilege in a rotting system.

But the real danger in trying to deal with Iran lies in the fact that we have literally no common frame of reference when it comes to history, or culture, or a way to view the world. Ahmadinejad made that quite plain in his speech before the UN General Assembly. At least the Soviets and the west had a common history stretching back a thousand years. We had familiar touchstones that allowed a dialogue where both sides were reasonably certain that misunderstandings about intent could be kept to a minimum.

But where do you find commonality with someone who denies something so elemental as the Holocaust ever took place? How do you find reasonable accomodation when the person across the table believes in a history that never happened (or has twisted the facts to the point that history is unrecognizable)? How do you avoid misunderstanding when the very basis of your opponent’s worldview is derived from a 1500 year old holy book?

I suppose (I hope) there are ways to overcome these monumental difficulties but I trust my point is clear; using our relationship with the Soviet Union as a template for dealing with Iran is idiotic. There is no basis in fact to believe that. And using examples of how we dealt with the Soviets to “prove” that conservatives are a bunch of bedwetters is absurd.

By: Rick Moran at 11:20 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

Neocon News linked with Link Dump for Thursday... Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with First Read: Ahmedinejad at Columbia an 'outrage'...

The Great Munchkin has spoken.

As far as I can tell the world is still rotating on its axis. The sun is still in the sky. There are still 6 million dead Jews as a result of Hitler’s Holocaust although the refugee from the Lollipop Guild tried to wipe that little historical detail from memory and the record by pleading for “more research” – as if digging deeper into the historical record (help yourself, no one is stopping you) will erase the meticulously kept records at Auschwitz, Bergen Belsen, Dachau, and other death camps that carefully listed the numbers of Jews who were shoved into “showers,” gassed, and then cremated in gigantic ovens.

And Columbia is still a school that features the most nauseating double standards in Christendom when it comes to free speech, denying many speakers the opportunity to address students whose ideological bent is deemed too…what? They can’t use the excuse that conservative speakers are spouting “hate” anymore. They just hosted the world’s most celebrated anti-Semite.

Despite President Bollinger’s spot on indictment of the little shit’s nation and rulers, I found it depressing when American citizens actually cheered what this man had to say – cheered when he answered Bollinger with an harangue about academic freedom when the ruling clique of Iran dismisses and jails teachers for looking sideways at the government.

Maybe those idiot leftists missed this report from Human Rights Watch:

The same pattern of persecuting academics in order to curb their intellectual activity recurred around the world. In Iran, a number of prominent academics were arrested in March and April as part of a broader campaign of stifling dissent apparently aimed at countering the widespread support for reform of Iran’s political system. In the weeks immediately preceding Iran’s presidential elections, authorities arrested at least ten scholars among a group of forty-two figures associated with the liberal Iran Freedom Movement, a banned but previously tolerated political party. Among the scholars arrested were Gholam-Abbas Tavassoli, a sociologist at Tehran University and formerly chancellor of Isfahan University, Hadi Hadizadeh, a prominent physicist, Ghaffar Farzadi, Mohammad Mehdi-Jafari, Habibollah Peyman, Reza Raisdoosti, and Mohammad Maleki. Tavassoli was released two days after his arrest, but several other academics remained in jail.

In response, more than one hundred faculty members from Iran’s universities signed an appeal to the government requesting the release of their colleagues. Widespread student protests in support of the detained academics also occurred at universities in Tehran and other cities, and were met by heavy handed police reaction.

These attacks on academic freedom formed the backdrop to a critical rise in the “brain drain” phenomenon among Iran’s academics and university graduates. According to a report issued by the Iranian government in May 2001, tens of thousands of academics and professionals left Iran for Western countries in the preceding twelve months. Commenting on this report, chancellors from several Iranian universities blamed the mass exodus of educated Iranians on the “continual psychological insecurity on the campuses.”

There are other, more recent reports of repression in the Iranian academy. Ahmadinejad himself has led this effort to purge universities of what passes for liberal professors and academics, just as he has purged most of the ministries of educated technocrats and replaced them with incompetent true believers.

For the idiots at Columbia who cheered anything this man had to say in the context of academic freedom shows a depressing ignorance of the true state of affairs in Iran not to mention a derangement that should have sent them for a night of observation at Bellvue.

But why shouldn’t they be captivated by the visitor from Oz? His surface histrionics merged easily with their own warped view of history and current events. Ahmadinejad may not be a classic determinist but his bottom-up teleological belief in the return of the Mahdi – something he mentioned once again, right off the bat during his introductory remarks and colored every utterance he made during his appearance – should chill the knickers off those kids like nothing Bush or America has ever done or said.

Beyond that, the Iranian president showed himself to be something of a coward, failing to address many questions directly and substituting platitudes and religious double talk instead. He even got off the best laugh line (unintentional) of the afternoon when he denied there were any homosexuals in Iran. What wasn’t very funny is that he actually believes it. Such obliviousness to reality from a man whose nation is about to acquire the capability to enrich uranium beyond that which is necessary for the operation of power plants should give us pause.

All in all, a revealing appearance by Ahmadinejad, convicting himself out of his own mouth as I predicted here. What I didn’t anticipate was that there would be a few on the left who found what he had to say appealing.

Even I didn’t think anyone could be so dense.

By: Rick Moran at 6:01 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)

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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has got to be secretly pleased with himself. His visit to the United States so that he can once again harangue the United Nations General Assembly with his warped and twisted view of history and current events has generated so much controversy, he must be hugging himself with glee that his name is on the lips of so many, his every move watched and commented upon.

This is unavoidable. There is a great gulf of misunderstanding between Iran and the west – largely the fault of the mystical Ahmadinejad. In a word, the Iranian President is oblivious. He has made it clear in his public utterances that he is blissfully ignorant of western values, sensibilities, and interests. Further, he has expressed no desire to be enlightened. He is an anti-intellectual in that he is not a seeker of knowledge but a purveyor of dogma. Because of that, he willfully misconstrues what he hears from America and the west, carefully twisting and shaping his take on current events to fit the preconceived outlines of his theocratic worldview.

The relativists among you will point out rather petulantly that we don’t “understand” Iran either, that Ahmadinejad’s understanding of history is formed as a result of western imperial machinations and that we shouldn’t blame him if he thinks we’re a beastly bunch of cutthroats.

And if one more lefty throws the coup against Prime Minister Mossadegh (after he had prorogued Parliament over a dispute involving compensation to the Brits for nationalizing the oil industry) in my face as a reason that the Iranians hate us, I am going to slit my wrists. We certainly supported it. But Mossadegh was not the mild mannered democrat heroically resisting US imperialism as he is so often portrayed by the left. His move dissolving parliament was done to forestall impeachment proceedings against him and caused many of his own supporters to turn against him and assist the plotters. The Iranians selective memory regarding Mossadegh has been useful to the mullahs as they lay the typical third world guilt trip on the US and the west in order to justify their hatred.

It isn’t that Ahmadinejad is misinformed. He is deluded. To believe that Israel has no right to exist as a nation and that the Palestinians are only poor, defenseless Muslims being slaughtered wholesale by the evil Jews for no reason flies in the face of reality. Ahmadinejad portrays the Palestinians as only wanting “justice” (so do many on the left in the west which calls into question their sanity as well as their judgement). The problem is, that is not all the Palestinians want. They have made it absolutely clear – both Hamas and Fatah – that nothing short of kicking the Jews out of what is now the state of Israel will satisfy their lust for “justice.” No word on where all the Jews would end up although their are huge numbers of Palestinians who would like to see them in mass graves.

So Israel continues to be roundly condemned and criticized for fighting for its own survival against a genocidal enemy who, after 60 years of negotiations, refuses to compromise on even the most basic and elemental of points; that Israel is. In any other universe, we would look upon Ahmadinejad and his supporters in the west who agree with the Palestinians and their “right of return” (think “Final Solution”) as lunatics worthy of being committed. But in the here and now, the Palestinians are portrayed as “freedom fighters” and the Israelis, in what is surely the cruelest and most nauseating irony in the long, sad history of anti-semitism in the west, are referred to as “Nazis.”

For this reason, the relativists tell us that Ahmadinejad has every right to desire nuclear weapons. After all, Israel has them, don’t they? Why don’t we take the Israelis to task for possessing the ultimate weapon?

The stupidity involved in ignoring the fact that Israel is an ally, outnumbered 10-1 by its hostile Arab neighbors (whose governments that are currently not in a state of war with the Jews are so unstable that they could be overthrown tomorrow and radicals thrown up in their place) would be shocking if we weren’t so used to it by now. The reason we vouchsafe Israel her nuclear weapons is exactly the same reason we tacitly support the Brits and French being nuclear armed; Israel is an ally and has a demonstrable need for them. This is so obvious that to try and bring some kind of childish notion of reciprocity regarding the Iranian nuclear program into the discussion is tantamount to lunacy.

But despite this sympathy for some of Ahmadinejad’s agenda, his appearance at Columbia University will no doubt draw fire from the left. But not for his anti-Israeli policies nor for the Iranian regime’s quest for weapons of mass destruction. Rather, it will be for the cultural peculiarities of the Iranian theocracy that sees gays and women a little differently than we do in the west:

A U.S. attack on Iran, which is not an inevitability but is a real possibility, would have consequences just as terrible as the invasion of Iraq. Thousands would die in initial air strikes, and more in the resulting backlash and regional conflagration. The work of Iranian campaigners for free speech, women’s rights, and lesbian and gay liberation, and against racism and anti-semitism, would be set back immeasurably. As Iranian Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi has pointed out, “Human rights are not established by throwing cluster bombs on people. You cannot introduce democracy to a country by using tanks.”

There are other means for engagement with Iran than war, and other means for disagreement with Ahmadinejad than the planned protest. We call on those who do not support a war with Iran to be wary of the vilification of Ahmadinejad, to avoid Monday’s rally, and to express vocally their opposition to military intervention.

Now here is relativism writ large. Plus a dash of laughable ignorance about the nature of the Iranian regime. All those Iranian “campaigners” for free speech are about as effective as a vegan proselytizing at a cattle auction. Those not jailed for a variety of “crimes,” are regularly silenced by shutting down their newspapers. And is anyone outside of the left not laughing uproariously at the prospect of “gay and lesbian liberation” while the mullahs are in power? These “reformers” need to become armed revolutionaries in order to achieve any of their goals.

And to use Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia to criticize those who are outraged that he is given a forum to spew his hateful nonsense makes one truly think they have fallen down the rabbit hole and entered Wonderland. Except in the left’s version of Dodgson’s universe, up is down, black is white, and the March Hare is sane.

I actually support Columbia University’s decision to invite the Iranian President to speak. Academic freedom must be as close to absolute as possible. Ward Churchill may be a fool but trying to shut him up only makes him a martyr. Similarly, hearing what Ahmadinejad has to say will be an eye opening experience for some, I’m sure. He will condemn himself out of his own mouth and save the Administration from having to gin up outrage over the danger posed by he and his government.

In the end, Ahmadinejad can’t help himself. As a man who believes that when he addressed the UN back in 2005 that world leaders didn’t blink the entire time he spoke and that there was a halo surrounding him, he will be unable to restrain himself from proving that he is insensate to reality.

He is not evil but pathetically childlike in his view of the world. Unfortunately he is determined to acquire some very dangerous toys. For that, the world should unite to deny him his perilous playthings so as to keep him from injuring himself or others.

I don’t believe that we have to go to war with him to keep the world safe – at this point. We still have time – up to 3 years if you believe the experts - before the Iranian regime would threaten the region with nuclear weapons. Diplomacy and sanctions can still work if the world can coalesce to stop them. Is this test beyond the capacity of the nations to pass?

Frankly, there isn’t much of a choice otherwise.

By: Rick Moran at 8:19 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (26)

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This article originally appears in The American Thinker

I just woke up from one of the worst nightmares I’ve ever had. You’re not going to believe this but I dreamed that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in New York City for one of his semi-annual harangues to the General Assembly of the UN and decided to take a side trip to Ground Zero. Why he wanted to do this was never made clear in the dream. Maybe he wanted to dance a jig or lay a wreath honoring those martyrs to Islam he’s so fond of praising after they blow up a bunch of babies in a crowded market or die while launching missiles aimed at innocents in Israel.

Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous and would never even be contemplated in a million years but let me finish. It gets better. In my dream, would you believe the New York authorities actually negotiated this little scenario, tried to see if it could be carried off? That’s right. The police and Port Authority were seriously looking at the idea of accommodating this Holocaust denying, terrorist enabling scumbag.

As it turns out, someone must have whispered in the ear of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly that such a visit might invite a negative reaction from New Yorkers and would cause all sorts of unsightly demonstrations and protests. This just can’t be allowed under any circumstances. It doesn’t play well on TV and there’s always a helluva mess to clean up afterwards. Besides, the Police Department can’t afford the overtime paid to all those cops who would have to guard the life of a man who leads “Death to America” chants at most of his public appearances and speeches.

So in my dream, the Commish turned the Iranian President down, saying Ground Zero was closed to the public because of the construction that’s going on. You would think that this would have been the end of it. But the former Mayor of Tehran, former senior Commander in the Qods Force of the Revolutionary Guards (who almost certainly participated in the assassination of an Iranian dissident in Vienna a few years ago), and former “student” kidnapper of American diplomats was not to be deterred.

He decided to go anyway. And being a foreign dignitary, he was entitled to the protection of none other than the United States Secret Service – a dedicated group of selfless and courageous professionals who would be expected to take a bullet for this supporter of Hamas, Hezb’allah, and several other groups who make it their business to murder innocents.

Irony piled upon irony as Ahmadinejad’s entourage approached Ground Zero. New Yorkers lined the streets watching in stunned silence as the Iranian President’s car moved through lower Manhattan. The look on their faces reminded one of the old newsreel pictures of devastated Parisians who watched helplessly as the German Wehrmacht rolled down the Champs d’Elysees in 1940. Their shock and sadness at the turn of events was total. Their devastation, complete.

As his little caravan approached the site of the worst terrorist attack in world history the scene changed abruptly. Several thousand people had gathered to protect the site from being abased by a man who has said recently that he believes that the United States government was responsible for what happened that awful day when the towers fell and not his murderous co-religionists whose announced reason was to martyr themselves for his God.

Hundreds of people were lying in the street blocking the caravan from making further progress, their bodies meshed together forming a solid block of unmovable flesh. Thousands more were screaming obscenities and shaking their fist in his direction, expressing the rage felt by most Americans that this leader of a government that is currently training and supplying terrorists in Iraq who target American soldiers should have been allowed to get so close to one of our nation’s most sacred sites.

Of course, this wasn’t really a nightmare because we just experienced the possibility of this scenario playing out next Monday in real life. The chances of the dream becoming reality have become slim indeed due to what Ahmadinejad told CBS News 60 Minutes a few hours ago; that if the New York authorities can’t arrange security, he won’t go.

But in that interview with CBS, an even greater nightmare is revealed. The President of Iran, the leader of one of the most important nations in the Middle East and a world/historical figure – a beacon of resistance to western powers in the third world – didn’t have a clue that his proposed trip to Ground Zero would cause such resentment among the American people.

Here is the disturbing exchange between CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley and the Iranian President:

PELLEY: Sir, what were you thinking? The World Trade Center site is the most sensitive place in the American heart, and you must have known that visiting there would be insulting to many, many Americans.

AHMADINEJAD: Why should it be insulting?

PELLEY: But the American people, sir, believe that your country is a terrorist nation, exporting terrorism in the world. You must have known that visiting the World Trade Center site would infuriate many Americans.

AHMADINEJAD: Well, I’m amazed. How can you speak for the whole of the American nation?

PELLEY: Well, the American nation—

AHMADINEJAD: You are representing a media and you’re a reporter. The American nation is made up of 300 million people. There are different points of view over there.

This is not the tone deafness of an ignorant man. This is the leader of a nation that is striving to build a nuclear weapon and has made it crystal clear it intends to confront the United States in the Middle East and drive us out while “wiping Israel off the map.”

This is a man who is totally unaware of what goes on outside of Iran, a man whose worldview is so warped by fanaticism, religion, and his own messianic self image that the concept that he could be anything except universally loved and admired is foreign to him. I have no doubt he was sincere in believing that his offer to lay a wreath at Ground Zero was a gesture of goodwill. But the towering conceit that allowed him to believe in the impossibility that his gesture would be greeted with anything except outrage shows Ahmadinejad to be an extraordinarily dangerous man.

We are constantly told by Iranian apologists in this country that Ahmadinejad and his boss, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei are rational actors and that even if they achieve their goal of building a nuclear weapon, we have nothing to fear because of the certainty that they do not wish to commit national suicide and either launch a nuclear weapon at America or give one to terrorists so that they can do their dirty work for them. This is the MAD doctrine – Mutually Assured Destruction – that kept the world from exploding during the cold war.

But even if Ahmadinejad and Khamenei are “rational” in the sense that they are clinically sane, how in God’s name can you not look at the above statements by the Iranian President and not wonder if his warped, sheltered, and intensely narrow view of the world from Tehran hasn’t blinded him to how the world perceives his rhetoric and actions?

This is a man born to miscalculate America. He isn’t ignorant but rather oblivious – a far more dangerous state of mind when one considers that by the fact that he is unable to grasp certain realities about America and her people, he is more than likely to assume reactions by us to his provocations to be something totally different from what they truly are.

Would he, for instance, believe that exploding a nuclear weapon on American soil not cause us to retaliate? It is not likely but reading the above responses to his proposed visit to Ground Zero causes one to hesitate in saying that there is no chance he could be so obtuse. His reality is so skewed that anything is possible.

And that might be an even bigger nightmare than anything he and the New York authorities could have dreamed up at Ground Zero.

By: Rick Moran at 6:07 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (11) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Iran case shows ground zero access tight...

I would like to be able to say that all the signs we’ve seen this last month about planning for war with Iran was just that – updating target lists, tweaking schedules and so forth. I’m sure the Pentagon does this all the time to many different plans to defend or attack. It’s why they’re in business and we shouldn’t expect anything less. But normally, such activity does not mean that we are about to carry out those plans.

But I don’t think the French Foreign Minister would say something like this unless the president has given ample warning to our EU allies that something was up:

The world should “prepare for war” with Iran, the French foreign minister has said, significantly escalating tensions over the country’s nuclear programme.

Bernard Kouchner said that while “we must negotiate right to the end” with Iran, if Teheran possessed an atomic weapon it would represent “a real danger for the whole world”.

The world should “prepare for the worst… which is war”, he said.

His comments came after Washington reminded Teheran that “all options were on the table” in confronting its nuclear policy, which many officials in the West believe has the ultimate aim of arming a nuclear warhead, despite Iran’s claim that it is for civilian purposes.

Jacques Chirac blew hot and cold on confronting Iran but ultimately came down exactly where Sarkozy’s government is now; no nukes for the mullahs. Whether that means that the French would support the kind of preemptive strike the Bush Administration appears to be planning, we cannot say.

Preemptive it would have to be. There is absolutely no way of us knowing when or if the Iranians will have overcome the immense technological problems in getting their centrifuge system to produce enriched uranium on an industrial scale. They may be months away as I write this if you believe Iranian President Ahmadinejad:

In a report submitted in late August 2007 to the to the IAEA Council of Governors, IAEA Director-General Muhammad El-Baredei stated that as of August 19, 2007, Iran had 1,968 centrifuges at the Natanz facility, into which UF6 gas had been injected. However, in early September, 2007, Ahmadinejad stated: “When we opened [the UCF] at Isfahan, they [i.e. the West, headed by the U.S.] threatened military action [against us]. But now, we are operating over 3,000 centrifuges, and every week [another] new [centrifuge] system is installed… They have not managed to do anything against [our] united and steadfast nation.”(6) He added, “They thought they could, via each of the sanctions resolutions that they issued, make the Iranian nation withdraw – but after each resolution, the Iranian nation showed additional progress [in its nuclear] program.”(7)

A “new centrifuge system” comprises 164 individual centrifuge machines. I believe Ahmadinejad is wildly exaggerating here when he boasts of having 3,000 machines up and running. And there is zero evidence that Iran has been able to use these centrifuges in a cascade – dumping the UH6 gas into succeeding centrifuges further enriching it. Even if they have partially succeeded in operating a cascade, the likelihood of them being able to use all their centrifuges to continuously enrich enough uranium to make a bomb is extremely slight.

According to experts I respect – arms control professionals who harbor no illusions about the world or our enemies – Iran is still 18-24 months from having a workable bomb. Allow me to commit a horrid blog faux pas and reprint an entire post from Dr. Jeffery Lewis’s Arms Control Wonk blog:

We know that Iran operated 8 cascades between 18 April- 19 August. That is seventeen weeks, 119 days or 2856 hours.

Eight cascades, fed 70 grams of hex per hour, should have consumed 1,600 kg of hex.

Assume the four additional cascades began operating on May 13 (about 14 weeks). The additional four cascades should have consumed another 650 kg, for a grand total of 2,250 kilograms.

Instead, Iran consumed 690 kilograms of hex during that period, for an operating efficiency of about 30 percent.

That’s very low.

What is very odd that is that 260 of those kilograms were consumed between 15 April-22 May.

As a result, all twelve cascades consumed only 430 kilograms in the not quite 13 weeks that followed. Twelve cascades, over the course of 89 days or 2136 hours, should consume almost 1800 kg of hex. That means Iran’s centrifuges operated close to one-quarter of their efficiency, a substantial decrease from the relatively continuous operation between 15 April – 22 May (about half their maximum feed).

Are the Iranians husbanding that Chinese hex?

Do the centrifuges with indigenously produced components not work right?

Is Iran holding back for political reasons?

Clearly, Iran is having problems with its nuclear program. It is a third world country without much in the way of educational, scientific, or technical infrastructure and have relied for years on other scientists and technicians – mostly from Pakistan – to make any progress at all on enriching uranium in any great quantities.

Now that the AQ Khan black market network has been smashed, Iran has been pretty much on its own these last few years. The progress they have made has been uneven at best. Every time Ahmadinejad brags about some new milestone in the Iranian program, it has proven to be unrealistic or an outright lie. The Iranian president is apparently not above using the nuclear program for domestic political purposes as evidenced by his remarks, translated here by MEMRI, before a Rev Guard gathering:

On several occasions, Ahmadinejad stressed that Iran would continue developing its nuclear program regardless of the sanctions. He noted that the sanctions were having no impact on progress in “the irreversible path of the nuclearization of the Iranian nation”(3) and denied Western reports of a slowdown in Iran’s nuclear enrichment. Ahmadinejad further promised to place Iran’s nuclear technology “at the service of those who are determined to confront the bullying powers and aggressors [i.e., the Western countries, headed by the U.S.]...”(4) In a recent conference of Revolutionary Guards commanders, he also stated that “some violent powers [i.e., the West, headed by the U.S.] are now officially declaring that they want to cooperate with the Iranian nation, and that they acknowledge Iran’s [status] as a regional power. However, they must know that Iran is a global power.”(5)

This, of course, is the monumental problem that Iraq poses. How much stock do we put into his boasts to “place Iran’s” nuclear technology in the hands of terrorists? Can we even afford to ignore a threat like that?

This is Dick Cheney’s “1% Doctrine” come calling in the flesh. If there is a 1% chance that such a boast would ever be realized, shouldn’t we act pre-emptively? It is a question we better start asking ourselves and debating. And if not a 1% chance, where do we draw the line? At what point does it become foolhardy not to take Iranian threats like this seriously?

And even though Ahmadinejad is still just the President and his views do not necessarily reflect those of his boss, Supreme Leader Khamenei, Iran has never seen a president with such a strong independent powerbase inside the country. Despite the fact that Bush may be more popular among the Iranian people than Ahmadinejad (just kidding), he has the unwavering support of some very powerful, very conservative elements in the clergy and especially in the IRG where he was a commander of the Qods force back in the day.

If this weren’t enough of a worry, we also have to be concerned that this is not a rational person we would be dealing with. All Iranian leaders have been walled off from the rest of the world for so long, their worldviews skewed by the Koran and by a self-imposed isolation, that it becomes extraordinarily difficult not to look at statements like this and wonder if Ahmadinejad isn’t an unreasoning religious fanatic:

“[The day] of these aggressors… who are oppressing and controlling the nations, is now coming to an end. Those who [seek to] distract the people with a materialistic philosophy of one kind or another, and who pursue materialism, have brought humanity nothing but despair and deception… The time of the righteous rulers will come, and the most righteous [of rulers, [i.e., the Hidden Imam], will form a government and thereby instate the monotheism of Abraham [throughout the world]. That day is not far away…

“Our enemies naturally feel threatened by the call to [believe in] the Mahdi, for they do not want people to thinks about justice. But our reply to them is that the era of the aggressive [powers] has come to an end. We believe that it is time for the righteous to rule, and for humanity to be properly [re]born out of love, knowledge and spirituality.”(14)

His pronouncements regarding the Mahdi may also be for domestic political consumption. But in this, we have independent observers who have remarked about Ahmadinejad’s apparent seriousness when talking about the 12th Imam:

At the International Seminar on the Doctrine of Mahdism, held in Iran September 6-7, 2006 during the celebrations for the Mahdi’s birthday, and attended by representatives of various countries, Ahmadinejad emphasized the universal and active nature of Mahdism and called on the West to accept it: “Today mankind is proceeding towards the truth. Today the happiness of mankind depends on proceeding towards the truth. Today we invite everyone to proceed towards the truth, since [the truth] is the only way… This celebration [of the Mahdi’s birthday] is not only for Muslims but for the entire world. The Mahdi belongs to all of mankind…

“The Hidden Imam has no tangible presence among us, but he is always [here], and we must prepare the ground for his speedy appearance… Some claim that during his occultation, his [nobility] is suspended, but that is not true… On the contrary, we must rush towards him and hasten to prepare the ground for his appearance. [He will not appear] if we sit idly. Mankind must hurry towards the Hidden Imam in order to reach him. A person who [actively hastens the coming of the Imam] is different from one who does not… Today, mankind is proceeding rapidly towards perfection, truth, justice, love, peace and compassion, and this is possible only under the rule of the perfect man [i.e. the Hidden Imam]...” [17]

We have no clue whether this is all for show or whether he truly believes in these messianic principles. And if he believes that the appearance of the 12th Imam can be hastened by actively creating the conditions for his return that have been prophesied, what does that mean for policy makers here and elsewhere in the west? At the very least, this possible obsession with the 12th Imam could be coloring Ahmadinejad’s everyday decision making process:

Ahmadinejad went on to explain: “At some meetings, I told these friends that I was an engineer, and that I had analyzed the problems and presented proof, [and thus] I told them that the enemies do not have the courage to launch a war against us. Some doubted my words, but I presented them with two [pieces of] evidence. First, I told them, I am an engineer, I am deliberate, I make tables and write and examine hypotheses for hours. I present proof and put together plans based on it, and that is how I proceed. They [the U.S.] cannot pose a problem to Iran. They are stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they have problems there, and lack the ability [to act against Iran]. As further proof, I told them that I believe in the word of God. God said that those who act properly will triumph. Iran’s Leader [Ali Khamenei] and the Iranian nation are steadfast in, attentive to, and agree with the word of God…” (9)

For those who believe that Ahmadinejad would never attack the United States or the west because he knows the consequences, it might help to reread the above paragraph. This is classic miscalculation of an opponent – the same reason that Saddam continued to fire on our aircraft and boast about driving us from Iraqi soil. He never thought we’d go all the way and overthrow him. He was wrong.

But is Ahmadinejad serious about his belief that the west will do nothing regardless of what they do with their nuclear program? Apparently so. On such miscalculations are wars made certain.

To sum up, we have an Administration determined to deal with Iran, arrogantly believing that no matter who their successor is, they won’t have the guts to do what is necessary to safeguard the country. Given the uselessness of diplomatic moves to date, it is clear to me that there is a clock – probably on Dick Cheney’s desk – that is ticking down toward zero hour.

And in Tehran, we have a messianic leader who dismisses any threat from the west and wants to put those who advocate rapprochement with the democracies in jail:

On another occasion, Ahmadinejad harshly condemned senior Iranian officials who had in recent months called for compromise with the West: “With regard to obtaining nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, unreliable individuals have spoken of compromising… No one would believe it if I mentioned the names of these individuals, who in several meetings spoke of the need for compromise, enumerating the enemy’s strong points, and [raising the possibility that the West could launch] an all-out war… We have experienced days when we were pressured from a hundred different directions from within [Iran] to withdraw [and halt uranium enrichment]... But I said that I was willing to guarantee them that it was impossible for [the U.S.] to launch a war against us…”(8)

A man who believes in the imminent return of the messiah and who thinks it is “impossible for the US to launch a war” against Iran?

This, along with the tunnel vision among our own leaders is a recipe for disaster.

Can Condi or Gates stop it? I think the answer is a qualified yes if they can engage the rest of the world in applying serious sanctions that dig deep into the Iranian economy. The faltering economy could bring to the fore in Iran the slightly less radical and more practical leadership of the faction led by former President Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, who was recently elected head of the powerful Assembly of Experts and is probably dead set against war with the United States – for now. This is the faction that Ahmadinejad was talking about in the quote immediately above. They don’t want war with the US on very practical grounds. Unlike their engineer president, they have no illusions of what a couple of hundred B-51, B-2, and F-117 bombers can do to Iran not to mention another 300 or so carrier based aircraft in the Gulf. They are rightly terrified that their rickety economy could be destroyed if the US were to seriously go after Iranian infrastructure.

Can the “no war” factions in each government win the day? In order to avoid conflict, the Iranians are going to have to give substantially on their nuclear program – stringent inspections with strict international oversight on its facilities – while the United States will probably have to give some security assurances to the Iranians that we won’t agitate for regime change. You and I both know such assurances will not be forthcoming nor will the Iranians agree to such demands.

But there is still time to maneuver diplomatically. Not much time – perhaps less than a year – before Iran will probably be capable of slowly enriching uranium to weapons grade levels. Whether anything can be done to avoid war in the interim is anyone’s guess.


I should have included this profile of IAEA head Mohammed ElBaradei in today’s NY Times if only because reading it – and more importantly, reading this post from Allah - shows the problems with getting the UN to do its job and help avoid war between the west and Iran.

Read especially Allah’s links to his posts from earlier this year when ElBaradei was shamelessly shilling for the mullahs, kowtowing to their wishes to banish an inspector who was doing too good of a job among other things. ElBaradei is the gatekeeper at the UN and would probably be the difference between war and peace in the long run.

Given his historic reluctance for confrontation, it is likely we will get the former.

By: Rick Moran at 4:21 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (39)

Big Lizards linked with Jobbed by the Watchman!...
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The Administration’s plan to name Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group should not surprise anyone. The move appears to be part of an effort to ratchet up pressure on the Iranian regime in order to force it to accede to western demands that it stop trying to build a nuclear bomb as well as halt its meddling in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The United States has decided to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country’s 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a “specially designated global terrorist,” according to U.S. officials, a move that allows Washington to target the group’s business operations and finances.

The Bush administration has chosen to move against the Revolutionary Guard Corps because of what U.S. officials have described as its growing involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as its support for extremists throughout the Middle East, the sources said. The decision follows congressional pressure on the administration to toughen its stance against Tehran, as well as U.S. frustration with the ineffectiveness of U.N. resolutions against Iran’s nuclear program, officials said.

I don’t think there is much doubt that this Administration has decided that if they can’t get satisfaction on Iraq and the nukes, then there will be some kind of military action taken against the Iranian regime. It appears that there has been a concerted effort over the last couple of months to point the finger at Iranian interference in Iraq. It has all the earmarks of a public relations campaign to sell the idea that the Iranians are killing Americans by supporting some Shia militias with arms and explosive devices.

If this were true, it might be reason enough to support a strike – at the very least against bases used by the Qods Force, the elite group of IRGC operatives who operate extra-territorially. In addition to their bases, I’m sure we’ve identified some other targets involving their economic interests that could be hit.

But nagging at the back of my mind is the question, “Are the Iranians that stupid?” Greg Djerjian:

So let us not, as proud Americans who care about the future of our country (or other concerned individuals besides), let us dare not allow again a growing drum-beat of vague allegations to gather momentum, with the attendant formation of a new consensus among group-thinking Beltway agitators whose strategic lens have proven disastrously faulty, but nonetheless still have the President’s ear (mostly via Cheney), so that launching of attacks on Iran gains traction as a plausible policy option. And even if you were to be tempted by some of these gung-ho chest-beaters on the Potomac, do you genuinely believe this grossly incompetent national security team would be able to handle the potential fall-out of such an operation…


The real danger we face as this criminally incompetent Administration winds through its final days is compounding the Iraq imbroglio by a catastrophic intervention in Iran. Any American concerned about this possibility needs to remind their representatives of the possible ramifications thereto and suggest to the Democratic Presidential candidates (on the Republican side, all but Ron Paul and Chuck Hagel on the side-lines have evinced a smidgen of sanity on foreign policy matters of late) that they cease their petty internecine skirmishing (at least occasionally, if possible) and focus on the danger of the Iraq conflict spreading to Iran (it is quite clear Shi’a-U.S. relations are set to deteriorate significantly in Iraq in the coming months, adding more fuel to the fire, and margin for error leading to a wider conflagration). Meantime, all of us must demand unimpeachable evidence about Iranian activity in Iraq rather than relatively thin gruel, to include summoning journalists to, if they are capable of it at least, digging into this story as genuine truth-seekers who skeptically monitor MNF claims rather than report them as undisputed fact. We’re tired of lackadaisical hoodwinking, aren’t we?

Djerjian (who is becoming unreadable as the above paragraph shows) nevertheless offers up a little sanity to inject in what appears to me to be nothing less than a march to war with Iran. For make no mistake, we won’t be able to stop by simply punishing the Rev Guards or the Qods Force for their meddling in Iraq and Afghanistan. Once the die is cast, it will be tit for tat, response and counter response. We bomb them. They fire at our ships or close the straits of Hormuz. We bomb their refineries. They unleash the Mahdi in Iraq.

Before you know it, the only way to stop it is to either not respond to a serious provocation or invade and overthrow the regime. Classic escalation scenario that perhaps the Administration is fully aware of and is seeking to implement.

I’ve discussed many times my opposition to either bombing Iran or invasion. Especially since the real problem is not with what Iran is doing in Iraq but what they are doing at Nantanz – working like hell to perfect the large scale nuclear enrichment program that will allow them to build the bomb. The only bright spot in this entire mess is that we still have some time to pressure the Iranians to accept stringent international safeguards on their nuclear program – perhaps even convince them to forgo it altogether although that seems unlikely at this point. Sanctions have been in place only a few months. And despite China and Russia’s foot dragging, patient and insistent diplomacy can almost certainly win them over to the idea that it would be better if Iran did not achieve the capability to construct nuclear weapons and that therefore, even tougher sanctions are necessary.

Even the paltry, fig leaf sanctions that we’ve imposed so far have had a big effect on the Iranian economy (due to concerns that stricter sanctions are on the way) and caused President Ahmadinejad’s popularity numbers to plummet to levels even below Bush territory. The people are chafing under the recent crackdown on western dress and manners by Ahmadinejad and actually rioted when gas rationing was announced.

The corruption of the regime’s leaders, who have their fingers in every economic pie in the country not to mention the incredible graft and kickbacks that are killing domestic oil production, is building a towering resentment in the middle class. And the economic minister just announced that 13% of the Iranian people live below the poverty line – surely understating the number by a factor of 4 according to some experts what with massive unemployment approaching 25% of all working age Iranians.

There is constant violence in the hinterlands where the non-Persian minorities are agitating for more autonomy or outright separation for the regime. And on top of all this, Iran is spending an enormous amount of money to keep their proxies in Lebanon (Hizbullah) and the West Bank (Hamas) armed and dangerous to western interests and Israel. This support is draining the treasury and causing even more resentment among the Iranian people who feel that money would be better spent at home.

All of these problems disappear with the first bomb dropped on Iran by the United States.

At this point, there is so little upside and such a huge downside to taking military action against Iran that for the life of me, I can’t understand why we are even discussing it. To my mind, it borders on madness. We are heavily engaged in Iraq and losing – more slowly than before but we are still losing. We and NATO are heavily engaged in Afghanistan and are losing there as well.

Does the Administration want to try for 3 straight? A perfect record of incompetence and futility? It simply boggles my mind the way many on the right are so cavalier about attacking Iran and getting ourselves embroiled in yet another conflict. As I said, it won’t stop with a bombing campaign. We will eventually be forced to go in and effect regime change.

I would hope that there are enough sane people left in Washington to prevent this catastrophe in the making. The Gordian Knot of war is beginning to tighten. And no one in the Administration seems willing or able to stop it.

By: Rick Moran at 12:49 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (18) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with U.S. to move on Iran?s Revolutionary Guard...

I find the imbroglio over Senator Barak Obama’s remark that he would be willing to meet with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea without pre-conditions amusing on several levels.

First, who is surprised that a man of the far left would be naive enough to make himself available as a propaganda tool for our deadliest enemies? The belief among liberals that their purity of heart and plain, simple goodness will warm the cockles of beasts like Assad or Kim Jong Il has been part and parcel of lefty dogma since before Americans were accused of having “an inordinate fear of communism.”

Hence, the man who uttered those words before visiting Moscow and kissing a senile Brezhnev on the cheek 5 months before the old coot ordered Soviet troops into Afghanistan could genuinely be heartbroken at such a monstrous betrayal of “trust.” Who would have guessed that the Soviets would double cross us like that?

The answer at the time was just about anyone who chose to see the Soviets for what they were.

Obama seems to have a similar problem in identifying the difference between genuine diplomacy and handing an opponent your head on a platter. Perhaps he should ask Nancy Pelosi, the highest ranking American leader to visit with President Bashar Assad of Syria in many years how well that kind of face to face diplomacy works.

Since Pelosi’s disastrous visit with Assad (in which she embarrassed herself and the United States by claiming she passed along a message of peace from Prime Minister Olmert – a notion quickly and brutally shot down by the Israeli foreign office) President Assad has proven just how easily he played his American visitor for a fool.

Just exactly what has the Syrian President been up to since that April visit?

  • He let loose the Palestinian/al-Qaeda inspired terrorist group Fatah al-Islam on the Lebanese government.
  • His forces have occupied areas inside the Lebanese border, building revetments and digging trenches.
  • The flow of foreign fighters into Iraq – about 80 a month – has not slackened one bit.
  • According to the UN he has resupplied Hebzbullah with arms and missiles to the point that the terrorist group has bragged they are as strong today as they were prior to their aggression against Israel last summer.
  • He has continued his attempts to intimidate the Lebanese government, trying to force them into bringing the pro-Syrian opposition to power.

This is what has been confirmed. Much more troublemaking by Assad has been suspected including plots to murder anti-Syrian Lebanese as well as foment a civil war in that tiny country. And his plans to destabilize the Golan Heights the same way he’s roiling the streets of Lebanon are well known by the Israelis.

What Pelosi’s face to face meeting accomplished was clear; zero for America and a PR triumph for Assad. Even non-competitive liberals have got to see that score as a losing proposition.

Now take Pelosi’s gaffe and imagine President Obama in Caracas with that smiling goat of a President-for-life Chavez introducing our hero to the multitudes of Venezuelans paid to go into the streets (or perhaps genuinely curious to see an American president handing a sworn enemy a propaganda coup). Does Chavez inch away from Tehran. Does he drop his support of the drug cartel/terrorists/communist revolutionaries in FARC? Does he stop his meddling in other South American countries?

Not likely. But Chavez has gotten exactly what he wants – legitimacy offered up on a silver platter by an American president.

Hillary has called Obama’s plan to take the 50 cent tour of America’s enemies “irresponsible and naive.” Actually, she’s probably upset she didn’t think of it first. For his part, Obama was backtracking but only slightly:

“What she’s somehow maintaining is my statement could be construed as not having asked what the meeting was about. I didn’t say these guys were going to come over for a cup of coffee some afternoon,” he said.

He added Clinton is making a larger point.

“From what I heard, the point was, well, I wouldn’t do that because it might allow leaders like Hugo Chavez to score propaganda points,” he said. “I think that is absolutely wrong.”

He likened the position to a continuation of the Bush administration diplomatic policies. And he said what was “irresponsible and naive” was voting to authorize the Iraq War.

I gather from those comments that as long as there was an agenda for such meetings, he’d attend. Fair enough. But Hillary’s point was that beyond an agenda, diplomacy is a two way street. In other words “What’s in it for us?”

Atmospherics mean little when Iran is trying to bring the entire post World War II structure of alliances and relationships crashing down in order to drive America and the west out of the Middle East. Is there anything Iran can give us – or say anything that we’d believe – that would stop their march toward dominance? The optimists like Hillary would probably say yes. And I shudder to think what she’d be willing to trade for that.

I’d like to believe that Obama’s gaffe would hurt him in the primaries. But from what I’m reading today on lefty blogs, most think the controversy is a non-issue invented by Hillary or actually support the notion of an American president giving a boost to our enemies stature and legitimacy. Most often, the precedent of talking to the Russians comes up in response to foreign policy realists who object to talking to the Damascus Don or the Tehran Terror Enabler. But just what were the Soviets after in agreeing to all of those summits – which were years in planning and carefully scripted? Nothing less than recognition that they were an equal with the United States in superpower status. The fact that they had 25,000 nuclear weapons aimed at us made that a reality that had to be dealt with.

But what of pissant dictators like Chavez? Do we offer him the same stature building, the same legitimacy? What the hell for? No matter what he says, he can’t be trusted to stop trying to foment revolutions in Latin America. Ditto the Iranians and Syrians as far as trusting them to be good global citizens. (Cuba may not be a problem by November of 2008 and Kim may be in a Chinese box by then as well.)

What makes these countries enemies is their desire to damage the interests of the United States. There is nothing concrete that we could offer them that would change that goal. No matter how much spadework was done by our diplomats and envoys, the fact is we would be giving these cutthroats exactly what they want without getting anything of substance in return. Why both Hillary and Obama would even contemplate such meetings only shows that atmospherics will always mean more to the left than what can be accomplished in the real world. And despite talk of our “broken military” and our “waning influence” in the world, I guarantee you that such nonsense is not on the agenda of leadership meetings in Iran and Syria. Potential targets inside their country for American bombs is, however, at the top of the list.

In the end, it is that perception that will modify the behavior of Iran and Syria, not the smiling, good hearted entreaties of naive American presidents who think that because the voters of America found them irresistible that the brutes who wish us ill would similarly be charmed.

By: Rick Moran at 7:27 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)