Saturday, April 4, 2015

Seeing the Forest

They're crazy
Amid the global hysteria over Iran's nuclear program that has lead to repeated threats of aggressive war, sanctions, assassinations, sabotage, economic warfare and ultimately the possibility of a diplomatic agreement to end the 'crisis', something very fundamental has been completely overlooked. Put simply, why Iran? There's been a 'Muslim Bomb' for almost 20 years in Pakistan, there's North Korea's utterly insane regime with nuclear weapons, there was the whole cold war face-off between the US and Russia that had their strategic arsenals on hair- trigger 'launch on warning' readiness, and somehow, a combination of strategic deterrence and 'Mutually Assured Destruction' (represented by the absolutely perfect acronym 'MAD') prevented any of those fairly shady characters from ever actually USING their weapons.

Of course, we know the answer. Iran, the Mullahs and the Ayatollahs are willing to sacrifice their entire nation, all its people and all its history in order to launch one final blow against Israel. Certainly, the Islamic penchant for suicide bombing and martyrdom hasn't helped this situation, but I'm pretty skeptical. First, it seems like a pretty specific suicidal hatred. According to this narrative, Khameini is willing to sacrifice his country under a rain of Israeli nuclear weapons, but only if he can use a nuclear device of his own. For all these years, he (and his predecessor) has had the opportunity to launch attacks on Israel and die as a result and have never chosen to do so.

Second, the dire warnings that the Iranians are a year or less from having a nuclear weapon have been ringing out for over 30 years. At some point you have ask if they should be taken seriously at all.

Third, primitive first generation nuclear devices are large, heavy, fragile and unreliable. And then there's the matter of delivery systems. A device like this would have to be loaded in a large, slow transport plane and the possibility that an aircraft like that could penetrate Israeli airspace from Iran is essentially zero.

And unlike those nations threatening it, Iran has a hundred year history of peaceful coexsistance with its neighbors. Yes, the Iranian government supports certain factions in other parts of the region - what other nation doesn't do that? Certainly the US and Israel support some fairly unsavory factions as part of their foreign policy.

I dunno. I know some Israelis, and their belief in the suicidal hatred of the Iranian leadership is conventional wisdom, not something to be questioned. And if you DO suggest it might be a bit beyond any human historical likelihood, they win the argument by telling you you're naive and you're not the people that are going to die under that mushroom cloud.

But it's very important to think about, for a couple of reasons. First, if you think about it, since 9/11 scaremongering about a nuclear device being used in a Muslim terrorist attack has been the primary justification for wars and interventions all over the globe. It's just a little too convenient -  it worked for the odious GW Bush in Iraq, and all over the world other heads of state noticed. It's been adopted as the most powerful message to manipulate your population into supporting yet another illegal war.

Beyond that, it's more than a little frightening that the leadership of multiple nations can be pulled in to an extreme, unlikely narrative like this and have it end up defining a huge portion of their foreign policy. The US tends to let Israel drive it's policy in the region, and let's face it, America has something in its character that makes it want to go to war with Muslim nations. But why Germany, Russia and China would go along with this convenient delusion is hard to grasp.

Iraq was never a threat, and millions of lives were lost or ruined. Iran has never been a threat, and look what it takes for them to be permitted to participate in the NPT. Israel has a significant nuclear stockpile, the Sunnis have a nuclear power in Pakistan, and Iran's fully inspected and monitored nuclear program is the major threat?

If there was ever a reason to question the sustainability of the current global order, this entire Iran nuclear debacle would be it.


  1. Isn't the general consensus that India & Pakistan cancel each other, MADly? I was also under an impression that the U.S. had a pretty good idea of where Pakistan's nukes were, as a military aid condition. (May have changed, hope not.)

    I'd have to guess N. Korea is the most immediate threat (give or take 20-30 yrs.) to the U.S. (& S.Korea) given what we know they have & only the N. Pacific in the way, but they're seen as sabre-rattling buffoons & probably not crazy enough to blow shit up just for Dear Leader Jr.

    While I'm reading minds, I'll bet a lot of what the Iranian politicos say is as much red meat for their base as anything any Republican might say; the mullahs have elections too, & the Iranian loon base seems larger than ours.

    Projection too: The Bible-beleebin' Senator is waiting for Jesus, the Ayatollah has the 12th Imam on speed-dial, it's a question of who blinks first. Dunno why he who starts it wins it, but that seems to be the idea.

  2. If you acknowledge that there has been a plethora of suicide attacks by genuinely sincere religious zealots, and if you concede that the stated overarching goal of the Mullahs running Iran is to exterminate Israel, then it seems possible, perhaps even likely that the Supreme Leader and his supporters are avoiding direct confrontation with Israel only until they can with certainty attack successfully. That comes with nuclear weapons. If those leaders are as insane as the followers who are willing to kill huge numbers while blowing themselves up - all for the reward of 72 virgins, a prize whose value completely escapes me - then what is to stop those sincere theocidal maniacs from doing the same thing with their nation that they've been doing on an individual basis? Sincerity is the threat, not rationality. I don't see much reason in the threats, only in the efforts to achieve fulfillment of those threats.