Dienstag, September 05, 2006
Hope After All?
Maybe there is hope after all. At least perhaps for the French, maybe all is not lost.
I regularly go the the website "Watching America" to see what sort of takes they have found on foreign newspapers reporting on the US. More often than not, it gives you a good idea of what some of the mind-sets are overseas in regards to US politics and policies, with a fairly even mix of positive and negative. Highly recommended.
So I found this there today. The author, Raphael Drai, is a Professor of Law and Political Science at the Universoty of Aix-en-Provence and School of Psychoanalytic Research Paris VII, so he's got some bonafides there, plus this appeared in the French newspaper Figaro. If you know the French newspaper scene, this is not exactly a pro-American rag.
So what does he say? He presents, as far as I know, the first signifcant public analysis of what Iran is actually trying to do with its brinksmanship, and I think that his take on it is pretty much on the money, and agrees with some of what I've posted here in the past.
To put it simply, Iran wants the bomb because it sees it as the best and fastest way to force its will on others. With the bomb, Iran *must* be listened to. Acquisition is simply a matter of using it against Israel, but more importantly it will be the key to Shi'ite supremacy in the Middle East, since the Sunnis don't have the bomb, nor are they expected to. With the bomb comes the establishment of Iran as the premier sanctuary for terrorism, the use of which Iran has increasingly perfected and which is a fundamental part of the Iranian theocracy. From what I understand, Iranian support of terror groups is the equivalent of a line item in their government budget, with the (false) argument that one's man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
This puts the goals that Iran is following in better perspective, and the understanding that Iran has of how decadent and weak the West is becomes clearer: Iran does not expect that the West will put together a cohrerent and meaningfull response, let alone through the UN, and Iran is truly becoming a rogue state, ignoring any and all treaties and agreements that it has signed. Non-Proliferation Treaty? Piffle. UN Resolutions? Double Piffle.
Because Iran - more exactly the Iranian theocracy, but hereafter Iran for brevity's sake - is not aiming for anything less than the end of days. This has been written off as so much farkle and talk, but this is the take of Drai as well. Put bluntly, as Drai does, Iran's goals are nothing less than the spread of Shi'ite doctrine as defined by Iran in a bid for global dominance and hegemony.
But what does this mean in the short-term?
Iran, as is now clear, supports Hezbollah and Hamas, both terrorist organizations dedicated to the destruction of a UN member state, with significant monetary, training and logistical assets. It brooks no interference from outsiders in this, i.e. this is, for the Iranians, not a subject of debate or of negotiations. It is their holy duty to do so.
Now imagine that Iran has the bomb. Not so much to use it - I think the Iranians also understand nukes as poltical weapons - but creating uncertainty and doubt about whether they would use it is almost as good as knowing for sure. The Iranians want the bomb for deterrence.
But not deterrence as we understand it: much more in the Russian sense, of ustrashenie (not sure of spelling or if that is the right word, will have to check that), which was the core of Russian nuclear strategy. It differs from the French concept of dissuasion (to dissuade, to convince someone not to do something) and from the English deterrence, to prevent by making it clear that the consequences are worse than the benefits.
The meaning of the word in this sense is compulsion, compulsion in the sense of adopting patterns of behavior so as to not be a threat to the one holding the weapons. This was, after all, the goal of the Soviets, turning their opponents will to serve that of the Soviet Union (this is not my fantasy, but rather served as the core of Soviet military thinking about nuclear weapons. Go find it out.) and hence change them from opponents into subservient vassals.
The Iranians aren't dumb. The stakes are huge and are very highly beneficiall if they can achieve them.
If they achieve their goal, they will not be opposed by ANY Middle Eastern state, at least at first. Their hold on Shi'ite terror groups and the extent that they are more than willing to finance and support terror directed against Israel means that they have covert tools at their disposal to undermine any and all Middle Eastern states with the exception of Israel, who they want to eradicate in any case.
This is the goal of the Iranians
This way lies madness, destruction and death.
The appeasement of the Europeans, the Russians and the Chinese towards Iran show that Iran has these countries properly nailed down politically. Neither the Chinese nor the Russians, the latter more so, can afford a nuclear-armed Iran on the Russian border, nor can the Chinese afford Shi'ite terror in western China. Both are trying to, figurateively speaking, ride the tiger while doing business with them.
Iran doesn't care about the UN: the UN is only useful to it as a delaying tool. They have seen that they can emasculate UN resolutions (Kofi Annan just proved this) by simply refusing to go along with them, ignoring them even though they are binding resolutions. They believe that they can, with impunity, ignore the NPT, which they are a signatory to, because they believe that nothing will happen to them when they break it.
And given the way that the appeasers in the West are arguing - that Iran should have the bomb and deserve to have it, that we should be friends, that their apocalyptic theology doesn't mean anything, that these are reasonable people if we were simply talk with them - I have very little hope that Iran will be stopped using political means. Which means that once again the US will have to take on the task to avoid even worse conditions later on.
Don't think they can be worse? Do you really think that Israel, who we all expect has nuclear weapons, will have its nuclear deterrence bluff called by the Iranians?
The whole problem of having nuclear weapons is that you have to be able to use them. If Iran truly believes that Israel will not use them, even while it is calling for the destruction of Israel, and that Iran can develop its own with impunity, abusing its status as nation-state to use terrorism as a political tool with immunity - we didn't do it, Hezbollah/Hamas did - then it is calling Israel's bluff.
The questions then becomes, as I have written here before, how many dead will it take before Iran's plans are thwarted?
And they must be thwarted: it is in our very own national interests to do so. I cannot understand how it can be in our national interests for Iran to break treaties, flaunt the international community and threaten not merely a member state of the UN, but even more fundamentally the very utility of the UN, with no consequences whatsoever.
But that this appeared in Figaro and from a Frenchman to boot: maybe there is hope after all.