Sorry, been busy at work. And I apologize to those who don't like the following language: I'm being blunt because it needs to be said. And of course I'm use hyperbole (exaggeration-to-effect): after all, this is a blog.
The situation with Iran is going from bad to worse: effectively, everyone at this point is fucked.
The Iranians are fucked because they're being governed by religious fanatics who seem to really want armageddon, since this will, according to them, bring back the 12th Imam whose appearance will mean that Islam will dominate the world and there will be true justice before the final judgement.
The Israelis are fucked because the Iranian government wants to remove them from the map and finish what Hitler started, or, barring that, wants the Jews dispersed in a new diaspora, preferably somewhere really unpleasant, and appears to be hell-bent on acquiring The Bomb to help them do so.
The Chinese are fucked because if they one the one hand lose Iranian gas and oil their economy will collapse, but on the other hand if they are going to veto any UN move against Iran they will encure the wrath of the American public, who just happens to be their biggest customer (by far), and by alienating their biggest customer they lose their export markets and their economy will collapse.
The Europeans are fucked because they, too, need the oil and also need the export markets for investment goods. Add to that the fact that the collective continental European governments are behaving like the proverbial rabbit staring at the cobra, fascinated by its movements and not knowing that they are being set up for dinner.
The Venezulans are fucked because Hugo Chavez is apparently buddies with the Iranians and will probably play the oil weapon game when the Iranians do so, providing for a double whammy on the world economy and at the same time really pissing off the US.
The Bolivians are fucked because it's really just a matter of time before their newly elected leader locks pace with Chavez with the same catastrophic results.
The US is fucked because the only way we can really take out the Iranian weapons programs (and don't be so naive to claim there's no proof that there are any: you don't fucking build research facilities underground unless you are expecting someone to attack them, and if you aren't building bombs you don't need to spend that money) is to nuke them.
And we're all fucked because we're increasingly heading into a situation where leaders no longer think that they have alternatives but to go to war to prevent what they think are even worse things from happening.
The Iranian motive for going to war is to destroy the lesser Satan, Israel, and badly hurt the greater Satan, the US. It is driven by feelings, hysterical feelings for the westerner, of humiliation; of massive resentment that Iran doesn't enjoy a sterling world reputation as nice fellows and wise people; and the fact that the mullahs rule only by terror and intimidation and are facing long-term challenges that they know they can't master, meaning that they've got only a few years - 10 at most - before the demographics shift against them and they lose their ability to intimidate.
The Israeli motives for going to war are simple: survival. Iran is the main finanial backer of terror against Israel, and the Israelis know this.
The EU has no motives to go to war. They don't want to go to war. They want to work this all out amongst rational actors with plenty of hidden agendas so that everyone can cut a deal, keeping the corruption to an "acceptable" level and screwing the taxpayers (as usual). They really, really don't want to go to war, since Going To War Is Bad For Business (and it means that in the future no one will want to pay them bribes any more, since they were paid to keep out and haven't done so).
The US has more than a few motives to go to war. First and foremost the instability of the Middle East is really bad for business: in the pursuit of stability over the last 50 years, the West - and not exclusively the US - has drawn up policies that guaranteed stability in the short run, but now have resulted in massive instability in the region as a whole. The damn French should never have given asylum to Khomeini and never supported the Fall of the Shah, since instead of merely tweaking the nose of the US - their permanent policy goal - they've created a monster that is starting to devour them instead (radical Islam). Now is the time, for the US, to break up the old and ring in the new, and the tentative voices we hear in Iraq - the country is discovering what it wants for the very first time in its history - are scaring the hell out of countries like Syria and Iran. The whole damn place is so fucked up that it's gonna take another Marshall Plan to get things back up and running in a semblence of normality (which the area has never seen) and it's gonna take another decade to do. The Americans don't want the largest supporters of terrorism to get the Bomb because it's a given that if Iran has the Bomb it means that they're gonna start setting them off in the US (Israel might come first, but it also might come later...).
So we're all fucked. As the saying goes, it's a huge shit sandwich and we're all gonna have to take a bite.
It's time to make sure that shit sandwich is as small as possible.
The Iranians need to zap the mullahs and become the Germany of the Middle East (they have the potential), but in a good sense: the industrial heart of the region.
The Iraqis need to zap Reuters and the other defeatists, cut a deal with the Sunnis (drop your weapons and stop fighting or the Shi'ites will smack you upside your head so hard that you won't know Jack), and get on with the job of building a future.
The Lebanese need to zap the Syrians and throw the slime out on their ears and get back to becoming the Switzerland of the Middle East (which they were, minus watches and chocolate).
The Europeans need to grow a backbone, get their military together and stop acting liking the wusses we think they are.
And the US wants everyone to just fucking play fair, no backdoor dealing and we don't want you cutting off the clits of your daughters. Arab women are good looking if they'd just let them be.
But like I said, we're all fucked.
Let's look at the scenarios:
Probable scenario: Iran say to everyone fuck off, we're doing what we want to, the UN gets vetoed by China, and the EU wusses out entirely. Then the moment Iran has the Bomb - and it's less far off than you might think, given cascading centrifuges - and threatens to zap Tel Aviv if we all don't bow down 5 times a day, the US and the Brits (and at that point probably the Japanese) mobilize, Iran cuts oil to everyone except the Chinese, Venezuala stops as well (except to Cuba), and the world goes into a depression like we haven't seen for 80 years. Inflation, massive unemployment, government financial collapse, and that's just the upside: air warfare, massive terror (light up a supertanker in Amsterdam, for instance), and if the war doesn't go nuclear it's still gonna kill millions. Mostly civilians.
Unlikely scenario, but possible: Iran zaps Tel Aviv, the Israelis zap the top 20 cities in Iran, and Qom becomes very flat and glassy. Mecca goes boom as well. Lots and lots of really pissed off people, war galore. Multi-million deaths, including probably some European cities. Again, mostly civilians.
Hopeful scenario: see above.
Things have reached the point where it's no longer a question of who got us into this situation (everyone did over the last 50 years): it's a queston of getting out of the situation.
Without millions of dead, mostly civilians.
Misperceptions are perceptions that are colored by what people want to see rather than what is really there. It is more often than not non-thematic: it's not that people decide that they don't like what they see and deliberately decide to see only what they want, but rather it's a failure of perception, of not being able to understand what the Other is saying, thinking, doing.
The problem is severely, almost impossibly worsened when one side is actively deceiving the other as to its true intentions.
Intelligence services, if they are good, do two things. They tell you what the other side **can** do, and then they tell you what they *think* the other side is **going** to do if what they can do is that what they indeed can do.
If you don't want True Believers in the coming apocalypse and in the necessity of the entire world becoming Islamic before there can be peace having the Bomb and thinking that they can start dictating terms - after all, nuclear weapons are first and foremost political weapons, that's Cold War 101 - then you've got to do something to stop them.
The silence is deafening.