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January 10, 2006

Iran: UN Seals Are Off - Nuclear Research Resumes. So Where Do We Go From Here?

Topics: Iran

Iran's extremist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a man hellbent on making his country even more fundamentalist and intolerant than the Khom, is forcing the world to confront an uncomfortable, 21st century nuclear reality. There can be no doubt that with a fanatic like Ahmadinejad in charge, Iran will ultimately go nuclear, and as Austin Bay says, "It's time to look seriously at regime change in Tehran."

Iran has removed the U.N. seals on uranium enrichment equipment and resumed nuclear research(politically correct way of saying that their development of atomic bombs has now taken off and moving forward), defying demands that it maintain a two-year freeze on its nuclear program - and the United States and Europe are to say the very least, very unhappy, calling it a step toward creating material for nuclear bombs.

So it should finally be dawning upon the EU by now that Western efforts to negotiate an end to Iran's drive for nuclear weapons have produced zippo (here meaning that they have both gone nowhere and have in fact fueled Iran's development of a nuclear bomb) in results, and continued discussions are highly likely to do the same. And in a now hopefully enlightened state of awareness, where does the West go from here? What's our next move, and have we finally learned our lesson that making a deal with liars and cheaters is nothing more or less than a bad deal to start with?

An all-out international effort is needed to stop Iran's nuclear program. If that failed and Iraq acquired nuclear weapons, the likeliest outcome would be a Middle East living with the Cold War concept known as mutually assured destruction (MAD). If one nuclear power were to use a weapon, it would bring retaliatory nuclear destruction.

Not a pleasant thought. MAD assumes rational leadership, not rule by fanatics. What if a leader such as Ahmadinejad, who calls for the destruction of Israel and contends the Holocaust is a myth, were to turn a whole country into a suicide bomber? Sobering fuel for thought -- and action.
Diplomatic efforts are unlikely to solve the Iran problem, partly because of the institutional weak­nesses of the IAEA and U.N. Security Council, where a lack of consensus often leads to complete paralysis and a total lack of effective action, but also because we are talking about Iran, an Islamic regime with no moral compass, that has no problem about lying and cheating or using an agreement to buy time for them to do the opposite of what was agreed upon, and believes that it is their destiny to force Islam down the world's throat - either by hook, crook, or force.

This leads us to an analysis offered by the Heritage Foundation:

Iran remains a dangerous revolutionary power determined to acquire nuclear weapons. No policy short of war is guaranteed to halt the Iranian nuclear program. The U.S. can frustrate Iran's nuclear plans and drive up the economic, diplomatic, and political costs of obtaining nuclear weapons by working with other countries to impose targeted sanctions on Iran, contain it, and deter it from using or threatening to use nuclear weapons.

In the end, if Iran threatens U.S. vital national interests, the hard-line government in Tehran should have no doubt that the United States has the capacity and the will to use all the instruments of national power, including military force, to defeat that threat. The United States should be prepared both to preempt and to retaliate against any threats to its citizens and property or those of its allies.

The EU-3 and the United States have jointly committed, if Iran con­tinues to pursuit a full nuclear fuel cycle, to com­mon measures designed to make the price of Tehran's actions far harder to bear than would be the case with only American opposition.

The requirements of full Iranian compliance can be spelled out with a great deal of specificity. Iran must agree to:

Terminate permanently its pursuit of a full nuclear fuel cycle,

Terminate permanently all programs to enrich uranium and produce uranium hexaflouride and its precursors,

Terminate permanently all programs to extract plutonium,

Terminate permanently its pursuit of a heavy water nuclear reactor, and

Allow an intrusive inspections regime (utiliz­ing real-time monitoring equipment) at the Bushehr reactor and associated spent-fuel stor­age pond and any other site that the U.S. and the EU-3 deem suspicious.

If Iran agrees to all of these steps, carrots in the form of diplomatic and trade concessions (e.g., a nonaggression pledge similar to the one posited for North Korea, diplomatic recognition, and the beginning of a trade opening) will jointly follow from the transatlantic partners. Ultimately, the onus remains firmly on the Iranians to decide to end the crisis. (However, Iran abiding by any agreement is extrememly highly unlikely - so why should the West go this route in the first place!

If the Iranians continue to spurn international efforts to resolve the crisis and instead opt to move forward with their nuclear program, at least the transatlantic link need not be a casualty of Iranian adventurism. In addition to agreeing which carrots to offer if the Iranians forgo their nuclear program, the EU-3 and the United States will need to work out a series of sticks designed to impose a heavy price on Iran if it continues on its present course. These sticks should include:

U.S. and EU-3 support for referring the Ira­nian nuclear issue to the U.N. Security Council. Unlike during the Iraq crisis, the West will speak with one voice.

Targeted Economic Sanctions. If, as is likely, Russia and China thwart a Security Council res­olution against Iran and the process does not come to an end, the EU-3 should immediately adopt a policy--at the EU level if possible or as individual states if necessary--of targeted sanc­tions against the Islamic Republic. Given the relative economic weight of Germany, France, and Britain, and given Iran's desperate need for further European foreign and direct investment to deal with its population explosion, the potential effect of this economic stick should not be underestimated.

A Common Interdiction Policy. The EU-3 and the U.S. should agree to a common inter­diction policy to ensure that no prohibited nuclear material moves into or out of Iran. If necessary, they should also agree on a common blockade to enforce this policy.

A Joint Declaration on "Loose Nukes." The U.S. and the EU-3 should jointly make it clear to the Iranian leadership that Iran, not just the West, has a proliferation problem. That is, any proliferation of nuclear technology in the region that is suspected to involve Iran will trig­ger the harshest countermeasures against Iran. Common diplomacy must again make it clear that the onus of "loose nukes" falls squarely on Tehran.
A Military Option. Barring an agreement, the U.S. reserves the right to protect its vital national interests and protect Americans and their allies, including through the use of mil­itary force if necessary. If Tehran is caught red-handed sponsoring terrorism against the U.S., any agreement on the nuclear front should not be interpreted as giving it immu­nity from U.S. military reprisals or counter-terrorist attacks.

Such a flexible transatlantic diplomatic strategy suits the current crisis because it allows the U.S. maximum room for diplomatic maneuver while uniting the alliance and putting the onus for the crisis entirely on the Iranians. Whatever decision the mullahs ultimately make, such a carrot-and-stick approach marginally shifts the odds toward a peaceful solution while remaining clear-eyed about the likelihood that Iran will continue to pursue a full nuclear fuel cycle.

U.S. Policy and Iran's Nuclear Challenge

The international debate over Iran's nuclear weapons efforts is now coming to a head. The United States and the EU-3 have closed ranks to confront Iran, but time to defuse the crisis through negotiations is growing short, assuming that it is even possible. Proceeding from the policy frame­work outlined above, the Bush Administration should:

Recommendation #1: Push the IAEA to Refer Iran's Violations of Its Nuclear Safeguard Agreements to the U.N. Security Council at the IAEA Board of Governors' Next Meeting

Washington should demand that the IAEA stop procrastinating and fulfill the terms of its charter, which require it to report NPT violations to the Security Council. By repeatedly delaying the referral of Iran to the Security Council, the IAEA Board of Governors has given Tehran more lati­tude to continue its cat-and-mouse game with the international community. The U.S. and its allies should push for a fixed deadline for concrete actions by Iran to account for its suspicious nuclear activities and to halt uranium conversion before the next meeting of the IAEA Board. Tehran should no longer be allowed to avoid sanctions by making just enough promises to avoid referral to the Security Council while failing to deliver on its promises.

Recommendation #2: Forge a Coalition to Impose Targeted Economic Sanctions on Iran

Although Iran has benefited significantly from the recent spike in world oil and natural gas prices, its economic future is not promising. The mullahs have sabotaged economic growth by expanding state control of the economy, economic misman­agement, and corruption. Annual per capita income is only two-thirds of what it was at the time of the 1979 revolution. The situation is likely to worsen if President Ahmadinejad follows through on his populist campaign promises to increase sub­sidies and give Iran's poor a greater share of Iran's oil wealth.

Iranians have already begun to send their capi­tal out of the country because they fear the poten­tially disastrous policies of the new government. Shortly after Ahmadinejad gave his October 26 speech threatening Israel, Iran's stock market plunged to its lowest level in two years. Many Ira­nian businessmen understand, even if Ahmadine­jad does not, that Iran's economic future depends on access to world markets, foreign investment, and trade.

The U.S. should push for the strongest possible sanctions at the U.N. Security Council, but experi­ence has demonstrated that the U.S. cannot rely on the U.N. to halt the Iranian nuclear program. Rus­sia and China may veto or dilute any resolution. The U.S. should therefore make contingency plans to work with Britain, France, Germany, the EU, and Japan to impose sanctions outside the U.N. framework.

An international ban on the import of Iranian oil is a non-starter. It is unrealistic to expect oil importers to stop importing Iranian oil in a tight, high-priced oil market. Instead, the focus should be on denying Iran loans, foreign investment, and favorable trade deals. Washington should cooper­ate with other countries to deny Iran loans from international financial institutions such as the World Bank and to deny Iran loans for a proposed natural gas pipeline to India via Pakistan.

Although Iran is one of the world's leading oil exporters, it is also an importer of gasoline due to mismanagement and inadequate investment in its refinery infrastructure. Representatives Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Robert Andrews (D-NJ), the leaders of the House Iran Working Group, have proposed a ban on gasoline exports to Iran. International support for such sanctions, particularly if supported by the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, would drive up the prices of Iranian gasoline and underscore to the Iranian people the shortsightedness of Iran's ruling regime.

Recommendation #3: Rally International Support for Iran's Democratic Opposition

The Bush Administration has correctly aligned the U.S. with the Iranian people in their efforts to build a true democracy, but it has held back from a policy of regime change, partly in deference to the EU-3 negotiations with Iran. However, now that Iran has clearly reneged on its promises to the EU-3, Wash­ington should discreetly aid all Iranian groups that support democracy and reject terrorism, either through direct grants or indirectly through nongov­ernmental organizations. The Iran Freedom and Support Act of 2005 (H.R. 282 and S. 333), cur­rently under consideration in Congress, would authorize such aid and tighten U.S. economic sanc­tions on Iran.

Iran has a well-educated group of young reform­ers who are seeking to replace the country's cur­rent mullahcracy with a genuine democracy that is accountable to the Iranian people. They have been demoralized by former President Khatami's failure to live up to his promises of reform and by his lack of support for the student uprisings of 1999, but a brewing popular disenchantment with the policies of Ahmadinejad's hard-liners is likely to re-ener­gize them.

The U.S. and its allies should discreetly support all Iranian opposition groups that reject terrorism and advocate democracy by publicizing their activ­ities internationally and within Iran, giving them organizational training indirectly through Western NGOs, and inviting them to attend international conferences and workshops outside Iran, prefera­bly in Europe or other countries where Iranians can travel relatively freely with minimal fear of being penalized upon their return to Iran. Educational exchanges with Western students would be an important avenue for bolstering and opening up communication with Iran's restive students, who historically have played a leading role in Iran's reform movements. Women's groups could also play a key role in strengthening support for young Iranian women, a key element opposing the resto­ration of harsh social restrictions by Iran's resurgent Islamic ideologues.

The United States should also covertly subsidize opposition publications and organizing efforts, as it did to aid the anti-communist opposition during the Cold War in Europe and Asia. However, such programs should be strictly segregated from public outreach efforts by the U.S. and its allies in order to avoid putting Iranian participants in international forums at risk of arrest or persecution when they return home.

The United States should not try to play favorites among the various Iranian opposition groups, but should instead encourage them to cooperate under the umbrella of the broadest possible coalition. However, Washington should rule out support for the People's Mujahideen Organization (PMO or Mujahideen Khalq) and its front group, the National Council of Resistance.

The PMO is a non-democratic Marxist terrorist group that was part of the broad revolutionary coalition that overthrew the Shah but then was purged in 1981, after which it aligned itself with Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. While this cult-like group is one of the best-organized exile orga­nizations, it has little support inside Iran because of its alliance with archenemy Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War.

Moreover, the PMO resorted to terrorism against the Shah's regime and was responsible for the assas­sinations of at least four American military officers in Iran during the 1970s. It demonstrated in sup­port of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and against the release of the American hostages in 1981. The U.S. cannot afford to support an organi­zation with such a long history of terrorism if it expects Tehran to halt its own terrorism.

Recommendation #4: Mount a Public Diplomacy Campaign to Explain to the Iranian People How the Regime's Hard-line Policies Hurt Their Economic and National Interests

Iran's clerical regime has tightened its grip on the media in recent years, closing more than 100 inde­pendent newspapers, jailing journalists, shutting down Web sites, and arresting bloggers. The U.S. and its allies should work to defeat the regime's suppression of independent media by increasing Farsi broadcasts by government-sponsored media, such as the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other information sources.

The free flow of information is a prerequisite for the free flow of political ideas. The Iranian people need access to information about the activities of Iranian opposition groups, both within and outside Iran, and the plight of dissidents such as impris­oned journalist Akbar Ganji, an investigative jour­nalist who has been jailed for exposing the regime's crimes against its own people.

The Internet is a growing source of unfiltered information for many Iranians, particularly Iranian students. Farsi is reportedly the fourth most popu­lar language used on line, and there has been a pro­liferation of political blogs devoted to Iranian issues. The U.S. should consider ways to assist Ira­nians outside the country to establish politically oriented Web sites that could be accessed by activ­ists and other interested people inside Iran.

Recommendation #5: Mobilize Allies to Contain and Deter Iran

The resurgence of Iran's hard-liners, Iran's con­tinued support for terrorism, and the prospective emergence of a nuclear Iran threaten many coun­tries. Ahmadinejad's belligerence gives Washington greater opportunity to mobilize other states, partic­ularly those in the growing shadow of Iranian power. The United States should maintain a strong naval and air presence in the Persian Gulf to deter Iran and strengthen military cooperation with the Gulf States, which are growing increasingly anx­ious about Iran's hard-line government.

The U.S. and its European allies should strengthen military, intelligence, and security coop­eration with threatened states, such as Iraq, Turkey, Israel, and the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates), which was founded in 1981 to provide collective security for Arab states threatened by Iran. Such a coalition could help both to contain the expansion of Iranian power and to facilitate military action, if necessary, against Iran.

Washington could also offer to deploy or transfer anti-ballistic missile defense systems to threatened states, enhance joint military planning, and step up joint military exercises.

Recommendation #6: Prepare for the Last Resort

The worst situation imaginable would occur if Iran posed an imminent threat to U.S. vital national interests and America lacked the capacity and will to respond. A strong U.S. military is essential both to dissuading and deterring Iran from fielding nuclear weapons and supporting terrorism and to responding decisively and effectively to Iranian threats.

Several military capabilities are particularly important to dealing with a nuclear or terrorist threat from Iran, including (1) expanding and strengthening the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI); (2) theater missile defense; (3) robust special operations forces and human intelligence (HUMINT) assets; (4) assured access to bases and staging areas in theater for both special operations and conventional ground, air, and sea forces; and (5) a viable and effective U.S. nuclear deterrent.

Proliferation Security Initiative. The PSI is a multinational effort to track down and break up networks that proliferate chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons technologies and materials. The Administration should field more modern capabil­ities that can provide the right intelligence, recon­naissance, surveillance, and interdiction assets for the U.S. military. In particular, modernization of Coast Guard and naval forces to help prevent seaborne trafficking of weapons material is vital.

Theater Missile Defense. Theater missile defense is also essential. Missile defenses provide the means to intercept and destroy a ballistic mis­sile in flight before it can deliver a nuclear warhead to its target. The United States should work with its friends and allies to provide theater missile defense to countries in the region. The United States should continue to pursue a mix of air-based, land-based, and sea-based missile defense systems.

Special Operations Forces and HUMINT. These military and intelligence assets provide the capacity for focused operations against specific tar­gets. Today, these forces are overstretched, perform­ing many missions in the global war on terrorism. The Pentagon should stop using special operations forces to train foreign militaries and do other tasks that can be done by conventional military units. In addition, the Administration needs to bolster the ranks of the special forces and HUMINT assets that might be required to operate in Iran, ensuring that they have the right language skills, area knowledge, and detailed, actionable intelligence.

Theater Access. The United States needs to retain the means to deploy and sustain forces in theater. The Pentagon should work to secure a vari­ety of basing options for staging military opera­tions. In addition, the military must have robust means to ensure its ability to operate in the Gulf and defeat "anti-access" weapons, such as cruise missiles, naval mines, terrorist attacks, and biolog­ical and chemical weapons.

Nuclear Deterrent.America's nuclear forces are in danger of atrophying. The U.S. missile force and warhead inventory is aging. The United States should be developing next-generation nuclear weapons. The American nuclear deterrent has been an effective guarantor against nuclear conflict for more than half a century, and U.S. nuclear power has helped to dissuade other nations from acquir­ing these weapons. Failing to retain an effective and dependable nuclear deterrent will simply invite aggression, not only against United States, but against other free nations as well.

Conclusion

Iran remains a dangerous revolutionary power determined to acquire nuclear weapons. No policy short of war is guaranteed to halt the Iranian nuclear program. The U.S. can frustrate Iran's nuclear plans and drive up the economic, diplomatic, and political costs of obtaining nuclear weapons by working with other countries to impose targeted sanctions on Iran, contain it, and deter it from using or threatening to use nuclear weapons.

In the end, if Iran threatens U.S. vital national interests, the hard-line government in Tehran should have no doubt that the United States has the capacity and the will to use all the instruments of national power, including military force, to defeat that threat. The United States should be prepared both to preempt and to retaliate against any threats to its citizens and property or those of its allies.

Important additional reading - Let Iran Go Nuclear?

Posted by Richard at January 10, 2006 12:26 PM

It is getting increasingly like 3 years ago even though what happened 3 years ago proved to be the biggest mistake and mess of all time: Iraq has been an ungovernable mess since April 2003 and no signs of improvement there. Perhaps, divert the attention away from what is happening there to what is happening somewhere else (next door) is the trick! Go to war and hope for the best ..

A war against Persia (i.e. the real name for "Iran", a name that was invented more or less by Reza Pahlavi Khan in the 1930s - more or less, because he derived the name from a language group). The name "Iran" came from "Aryan", and the elder Pahlavi was apparently pro-German. The older Pahlavi was shafted and replaced by his son who used the same name for the country. This "meddling" by UK/US elements probably first angered the Persian people. Mohammed Reza Pahlavi - i.e. THE Shah - kept the name "Iran", and for some reason - despite its Pahlavi origins - so did Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei!!

The 1953 coup against a Dr. Mossadeq first caused Persia to mistrust The West (i.e. the British Empire, and its American replacement). The 1979 revolution was a result of the anger of all that (that revolution was not perfect and too many gunmen got into power). The 1979 revolution set a period of proxy war with The West (UK/US).

What we see now is not new. Ahmadinejad is responding to frustration in the government at rejection of proposals by Rafsanjani and Khatami before. The West fails to see is there are more dangerous countries than Persia-Iran because:

1. Persians are mostly secular.
2. They are not a supporter of al Qaeda (indeed, al Qaeda is a sworn enemy of Shia Islam).
3. An Islamic Revolutionary takeover of Saudi Arabia (which could benefit from attacks against Iraq and Persia) and the creation of the Islamic Emirate of Arabia is far more scary. Indeed, that's when we may need Shiite Persia to be a nuclear detterent ..

If the West wants dialog, that's what they should try to achieve: not some sort of arrangement where the West get all and Persia nothing. There needs to be something (and not bribery either) beneficial to both sides.

Attacking Persia would only strengthen the instability in the region (further reducing oil and increasing terrorism and anarchy). Probably, most of Persia (i.e. the parts of ethnic Persian peoples) would become a peaceful state (it is more together than Iraq for sure), but - like Afghanistan - would have its wild provinces: these would include Khuzestan and Balochistan. These 2 Sunni-inhabited ethnic minority provinces would form independent, fanatic, al Qaeda states that would further weaken Iraq and then Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (which is also has a part of Balochistan). Now, think of this: Persia is a Shiite state without a nuke yet, but Pakistan is a nuke armed Sunni state with a lot of Qaeda fans and it only takes some madman to take over the government there in all the anarchy. Iran/Persia is what keeps Qaeda apart: without it, you will have these fanatic Islamic Emirates:

Balochistan
Pakistan
Iraq
Arabia

Posted by: Ellehcim at January 10, 2006 7:29 PM

Ellehcim,
All of your points are good ones, and there is wisdom in your thoughts. Iranians as a people rank among the most pro-American in the world. It's not the Iranian people that are the problem, it's the Islamic regime and it's president.

Still, we cannot have a nuclear Iran compound the problem of a nuclear Sunni Muslim Pakistan. If fundamentalists take over the gov. in Pakistan, the world is indeed in very big trouble. But the same applies to Iran where there is already madmen at the helm.

Thank you for your input, it's definately food for thought.

Posted by: Richard at January 10, 2006 10:18 PM

Where do we go from here? Downtown Tehran in B2's and B1B's. If we don't the Israelis will. And they'll have no compunction about leaving it a smoking radioactve glass filled hole. The Iranian people should HOPE we intervene and tell Israel that we'll take care of it and to go sit down and shut up. We likely WON'T leave it a radioactive ruin.

Posted by: Rorschach at January 11, 2006 9:10 AM

by the way, Iran IS Aryan, Germany absconded with that classification, even though it generally does not fit. Germany is primarily Saxon. The people of Iran are fair skinned and often blonde/blue.

Posted by: Rorschach at January 11, 2006 9:13 AM

Rorschach,

Hopefully, we'll be very selective and target the military and nuclear sites, while leaving "downtown Tehran" alone. After all, like we all recognize, for the most part - the Iranian people are very pro-American and victims of an Islamic regime run-amuck!

As to the choice of weaponry - I'd like to see Raptors and B-52s leave big monstrous holes where the nuclear and military sites "used to be."

Posted by: Richard at January 11, 2006 9:47 AM

Richard, my point was that most of the nuclear sites are in and around Tehran, as are government offices and presidential palaces. Personally I'd rather take out the Iranian government and leave the nuclear sites alone at least in the first waves to prevent having a radioactive mess to clean up. we can always send the marines in to mop those places up after the government has been decapitated. Is the problem not a government in need of regime change and not the scientists and engineers working in those facilities after all?

Posted by: Rorschach at January 11, 2006 4:22 PM

BTW, B52's can't use the most accurate laser guided munitions, and F-117 and F-22 can't carry the bigger bunker buster ones in it's bomb bay, but the B2 and B1B's can. also, there is only one squadron of F-22's so far, they may or may not use them. likely the mix will be F-117's, B1B's and B2's for the targets needing high accuracy (buildings downtown, hardened bunkers, SAM sites, etc.), F/A-18's for air cover, EA-6's for jamming, and B-52's for those targets where conventional carpet bombing is appropriate.

Posted by: Rorschach at January 11, 2006 4:29 PM

The "Iranian" government is a total mess, and the people want rid of it. Of late, the government has not been able to implement its "Islamic" laws because they are too weak to. Instead, the government turns a blind eye to a lot, issues bans on modern music that are ineffective and nonimplementable and instead concentrates on blaming the outside world for all the problems they have caused.

But, why is this government a mess? The reasons are varied:

1. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was more than one person. In body, he was one but in viewpoint, he became the most quoted by all so as to implement their own agenda. The Shah was driven out when Khomeini was in exile. They rebel army instigated a civil war against a collapsed enemy and consolidated power ever before Khomeini came back to Persia. Khomeini became figurehead, and a struggle between moderates like Bani Sadr and fanatics like Rajai began. Rajai took over Persia's government and eventually got killed himself. The pragmatic conservatives like Khamenei and Rafsanjani became the leaders, then (but, Iraq invaded Iran shortly before and chaos still reigned). Then, came the reformists and now Ahmadinejad (who is a second Rajai, except no one in Persia seems to care anymore).

2. No one in Persia really wanted/wants a 100% religious government. Fanatic minorities do, but even top clerics like Khomeini, Khamenei and Rafsanjani had to ban ultra-fanatic organisations that were too radical (Ahmadinejad is meant to be one of these - but, is this political shaming or true?).

3. Modern Persia has always been pulled in two directions. First it was moderate Bani Sadr and Bazargan versus radical Rajai. Then, it was everyone united for the time being against Saddam's Iraq. Then, it was Rafsanjani's attempts to moderate, but Rafsanjani did not want to distance himself from Khamenei. Then, Khatami took Rafsanjani's ideas much further and he struggled with Khamenei. Now, it is Ahmadinejad versus Khamenei and Rafsanjani. For the first time, the Supreme Leader of Persia is on the moderate side of the equation (rather than his traditional role of being in the middle or siding with a hardliner who knew the limits).

4. There is a war between the clerics and non-clerics. However, be warned: most moderate candidates in the last election where Mullahs. Ahmadinejad is not a Mullah, but is he really a radical? Or merely just another inside row that the Islamic Republic of Persia has always specialised in?

5. Ahmadinejad is not the big bad guy some may think. He is merely saying what all say in the Middle East and his rhetoric is no different from that of other Islamic Republics. As said, Ahmadinejad is responding to aggression by others as there is a culture of trading insults by "Iran" and the West for years. Unlike other leaders of modern Persia, Ahmadinejad got no period of grace. Western press called him hardline, Western governments turned on pressure. Ahmadinejad is a product of his times. He and the West do not get on, so we cannot see what he would be like in better times (9/11 ruined all and has changed all players involved: Bush, Blair, Ahmadinejad, etc.).

So, the current regime in Persia will crumble either by being ignored by the people or else by being overthrown by the people. Either way, a stronger secular alternative will emerge. One thing the government cannot do effectively of late is control so-called "vice" and implement so-called "virtue". Alcohol, unveiled women, modern pop music, rave parties, and even hard drugs are all part of Ahmadinejad era Tehran. And, a lot of it is ignored (it ain't only the Christians who are doing all these (they have more social freedoms - eg. they can drink alcohol - than Muslims) but the Muslims, too). Persians seem to just ignore government, politics, etc. The regular police and army allow people live they way they like, and even the top clerics seem to be indifferent about imposing restrictions. Mullahs recognise that the best they can hope for is for people to ignore government as long as they have some freedom. A clampdown on freedom would spell their immediate end.

A US/UK attack would probably put things 180 degrees in the other direction. Persians would become anti-West, and pro-government. The government would become relevant again. So, what should the US/UK alliance do? Wait a while and let Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs slog it out. The government of Persia hasn't been as weak for years. The end is nigh.

Aside: Persia is now known as an Islamic Republic, but that term is often synonymous with describing that country today. However, the Persian Republic was not the first Islamic Republic. Other Islsmic Republics (which Persia copied) included Pakistan, Mauritania, Libya and Comoros. Like Persia, these all unsuccessfully try/have tried to meld Sharia and common law, Western democracy (often with some socialism and communism as well) and repressive Sharia customs and democracy and dictatorship. Persia is not any different, only that it has a clerical government. Foreign policy borrows from Arab nationalism like Libya or 1950s Egypt. The Islamic Republic system in Persia is on the wane, but it is still a popular idea elsewhere. The Taliban tried and failed to set up a lasting pure one without the common law, democracy, etc. Afghanistan still remains an Islamic Republic, albeit a moderate one. Sudan and Somalia have also experimented with this style of government. If the monarchies of Saudi and so on ever fall, a form of Islamic Republic will be set up. If Iraq ever gets a stable government, you can be sure it will be a form of the Islamic Republic. An Islamic Republic is not a bad or a good thing in itself. There can be evil ones and good ones, and ones in between. However, the first truly effective one (maybe it will be Hamid Karzai's Afghanistan or Persia in a few years) has yet to emerge. But, I believe a democratic Islamic Republic in one Mid East country would produce a domino effect of stability. In the Mid East, you cannot ignore religion or democracy. But, if you can combine the two (I mean, really combine the two - that means freedom to dress, eat, drink, etc. what you like but also be respectful to god, other people and so on), you are onto a winner. Like, the Koran talks about many things but you can interpret its views on alcohol in 2 ways:

1. Alcohol is evil, so ban it.
2. Alcohol is fine in moderation (a little wine is good, too much is bad) but drunkenness is a sin and can cause harm to others.

I think the latter is what Allah wants us to stop, not an innocent person who harms no one by having a few beers ..

Posted by: Ellehcim at January 11, 2006 7:22 PM

Rorschach,
That'll work - Tell George we said okay and to get it done.

Posted by: Richard at January 11, 2006 9:31 PM



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