Friday, February 23, 2007


The MSM documents that Iran has failed to comply with UN resolutions requiring it to cease its nuclear production. The best of the articles comes from the Washington Post:

Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities," the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency reported. The report also said that Iran "has not agreed" to permit sufficient scrutiny of its nuclear program as required to determine whether it is pursuing nuclear weapons. "Iran has not agreed to any of the required transparency measures, which are essential for the clarification of certain aspects of the scope and nature of its nuclear program," the six-page report said.

The IAEA said Iran has not been forthcoming in its response to documents obtained by U.S. intelligence indicating that Iran was trying to build a missile to accommodate a nuclear warhead and constructing a covert facility to convert uranium.

Read the entire story.

The ball is again in our court. Our next move is dependent on how our government assesses the threat of a nuclear armed Iran.

As a threshold matter, no one, not Harry Reid, not Nancy Pelosi, not Joe Biden, not Jacques Chirac, and not even Jack "retreat to Okinawa" Murtha -- hmmm, scratch that, maybe only Jack Murtha -- can possibly believe that Iran's nuclear activities are intended for anything other then building atomic weapons.

Two, we know that Iran is a theocratic police state that, to quote Amir Taheri, seeks to see its religion . . . transformed into a political ideology [that can be used throughout the Middle East as] an instrument of power for the ruling clergy." It is aggressively expansionist.

Three, the unique brand of Shiaism practiced in Iran is a triumphalist religion that, as interpreted under the ageis of Khomeinism, glorifies death and suicidal actions, seeing in them "martyrdom" that is a sure ticket to particularly earthly delights in heaven (for the males, at least). And there are very many true believers in the Shia world. How many tens of thousands of teenage boys drank the Kool Aid offered by Khomeini, took the plastic key made in Taiwan that Khomeini told them was the key to heaven, and then marched weaponless across the sands of Iraq to clear minefields and to die charging Iraqi positions during the Iran-Iraq War?

It is clear that true believers in Khomeini's Shiaism do not operate from the same set of rational principals that protected us during the cold war -- i.e., MAD, the concept of mutually assured destruction. Bernard Lewis, the preeminent Middle East scholar in America, expounded upon this in an article some months ago:

A passage from the Ayatollah Khomeini, quoted in an 11th-grade Iranian schoolbook, is revealing. "I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers [i.e., the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against their whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another's hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours."

In this context, mutual assured destruction, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, would have no meaning. At the end of time, there will be general destruction anyway. What will matter will be the final destination of the dead--hell for the infidels, and heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, MAD is not a constraint; it is an inducement.

Coupled with this mindset, we know that the Iranian government has no moral qualms with murder and that the government is unconcerned with collateral damage, whether it be Christian, Jew, or even Islamic blood spilled. A common refrain is that Allah will sort them out in Heaven.

So if the mullahs of Iran get nuclear weapons, what is the likelihood that they will use them and how would they use them? The permutations and scenarios are endless. But clearly, no one can possibly expect the theocracy in Iran to lessen their aggression or bellicosity once they have nuclear weapons. Quite the opposite. Thus they will become even more of a threat to their neighbors and to the Western world. Several possible scenarios and their probability are discussed in detail here, including:
Abdullah and Mubarak, two of the most prominent Sunni leaders, have, along with senior Saudi officials, evoked the specter of a new Middle East divided along sectarian lines. It would set the ­long-­downtrodden Shia against their traditional Sunni masters, rulers, and landlords. If the first battlefield was Iraq, the two leaders suggested, the next would be the ­oil-endowed regions of the Persian Gulf, southern Iraq, and Azerbaijan, where Shia happen to live. In this scenario, the ayatollahs of Shiite Iran could then secure control of the Iraqi, Saudi, and Caspian oil and gas fields by placing them under the protection of their own nuclear arsenal, thus establishing the first Islamic state to achieve great-power status since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in

Given the clear threat, it is impossible to see how we could allow the mullahs in Iran to have a nuclear weapon. Failure to make the tough decisions now will only increase exponentially the potential for war and casualties on a grand scale later.

That does not mean that we should act militarily now. Our window for military action against Iran -- without having to worry about a nightmare scenario such as described above -- is between one to five years. There is no question that we would decisively win such a confrontation, but the costs would be dear. Further, if we only engaged in an air strike to "set back the clock" on Iran’s nuclear development while leaving theocracy intact, that could prove very problematic. It raises a significant possibility of imbuing a nationalism among Iranians that is now absent and, with the population backing them, there is no doubt that Iran would become very aggressive in attacking American and Western interests world-wide.

So our aim must be to exploit Iran’s weaknesses by other means. There are many. Twenty-eight years of theocratic rule has alienated and secularized a large portion of the population. There is wide scale unemployment and very high inflation, As one commentator has described it:
Despite ample natural resources, Iran continues to suffer double-digit rates of inflation and unemployment. A million young Iranians enter the job market every year, but the economy produces less than half that many jobs. The clerics' penchant for centralization has bred an inefficient command economy with a bloated bureaucracy. Extensive subsidies for basic commodities, such as wheat and gasoline, waste tens of billions of dollars but do little to alleviate poverty. Massive foundations that are philanthropic only in name monopolize key sectors of the economy, operating with little competition, regulation, or taxation. Inefficient state-owned enterprises drain the government budget, and a vast gray market of commercial entities has been spun off from government ministries. The recent increase in oil prices is not a long-term solution to Iran's woes; the economy's flaws run much too deep. Twenty-five years after Iran's revolution pledged to deliver a more just society, the Islamic Republic has spawned an economy that benefits only an elite group of clerics and their cronies and stifles private enterprise.

And therein is Iran’s Achilles heel. Indeed, the relatively mild sanctions that we have already placed upon Iran are showing fault lines in the theocracy. What Iran seeks to do now is forestall any further actions. In the past two weeks, we have seen Iran profess a renewed interest in talks and a ratcheting down of the bellicosity:

[On February 11] Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, briefly met with European diplomats for the first time since talks collapsed in September and said Iran was willing to return to formal discussions.
. . . .
Larijani also said Iran was a force for regional stability in the Middle East and had no designs on any of its neighbors, including Iraq and Israel. "We pose no threat, and if we are conducting nuclear research and development, we are no threat to Israel," he said.

And two days ago, as described by Powerline, there was a "breathless" report on CNN about

. . . a "top government official" of Iran--identity, unfortunately, unknown--and reports that Iranian officials, at least those who don't dare divulge their identities, are hungry for good relations with the U.S.:

"Natural allies," this official said.

It was a surprising choice of words considering the barbs Washington and Tehran have been trading of late.

"We are not after conflict. We are not after crisis. We are not after war," said this official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But we don't know whether the same is true in the U.S. or not. If the same is true on the U.S. side, the first step must be to end this vicious cycle that can lead to
dangerous action -- war."

This anonymous, but presumably very powerful, Iranian assured Ms. Amanpour that the desire for peace with the U.S. goes to the very top of the Iranian hierarchy: He confided that what he was telling me was not shared by all in the Iranian government, but it was endorsed so high up in the religious leadership that he felt confident spelling out the rationale.

"This view is not off the streets. It's not the reformist view and it's not even the view of the whole government," he replied.

But he insisted he was describing the thinking at the highest levels of the religious leadership -- the center of decision-making power in Iran.

I asked whether he meant Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself.

"Yes," he said..

Does anyone believe this? (Mr. Murtha, please put your hand down)

These actions are so obviously disingenuous as to be laughable. The clear purpose of these acts is to exploit the two major weaknesses of the West. One, a largely amoral and pacifistic Europe, usually led by France’s Chirac, whose professions of motivation by high principles is quite literally always naught but smoke to hide a profit motive that might be mined while America foots the bill with money and blood. Two, a Democratic party now in power that is equally amoral and almost as spineless, and whose profession of motivation by high principles is predicated on attaining partisan political advantage.

Europe has had years of talks with Iran, which we have fully supported, including our offer of a package of economic incentives that was rejected only because Iran’s true objective is a nuclear arsenal. Further talks with Iran, absent significant punitive actions, would be not only useless, but counterproductive. What Iran seeks at this point is to buy time – time to complete their weapons program; time to patch the numerous leaks in the dam of their floundering economy; time to wait until George Bush leaves office; and, ultimately, time to gain a position of advantage over the West.

Yet, it would seem that Iran’s last minute gambit is already paying dividends. Russia and China are, in essence, allies of Iran in this matter – and have no doubt it is with the intention of weakening the United States strategically while gaining a financial advantage. They are stabbing us in the chest, not the back. The target on our back is reserved for the Europeans who are already grabbing for the knife:

A senior European diplomat said it is not a foregone conclusion that "we will go down the sanctions lane," adding: "There are quite a number of European Union countries who believe we should go easy because there seems to be an opening on the Iranian side."
So what to do? One, Bush needs to publicly and forcefully put the military option back on the table if for naught else then to impress upon all parties – mostly immediately our "allies" – that it is now time to impose harsh sanctions before the military option is the only one left. Now is not the time for any mixed signals. Iran and the Democrats must be disabused of any belief that we will quietly acquiesce to Iran's attainment of nuclear weapons. Two, we need to adopt an aggressive policy of destabilizing Iran’s theocracy with the intent of achieving regime change. Clearly Iran can make much trouble for us in Iraq, but we need to quickly get to the point that we can go one better, both in Iran and Iraq. Glen Reynolds is spot on in his calls for targeted covert action against Iranian high value targets, and it needs to happen both in Iraq and Iran. Lastly, Amir Taheri, a brilliant Iranian author, has written very thorough article on the how and why of regime change in Iran. Rather then repeat him, I urge you to read this in full.

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