Monday, January 29, 2007

Will the Real America Stand Up?

You can't lose for the winning. Nope. Let's see. You can't win for the losing. Oh, heck. Let's just go directly to the Guardian article. Only the US hawks can save the Iranian president now, which argues -- you guessed it -- that Iran will collapse if only America does nothing to resist the Ayatollahs and leaves UN sanctions to work.

The honeymoon is over. Iran's controversial president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has finally come unstuck. His popularity with the Iranian electorate - the subject of much incredulous analysis in 2005 - seems to be falling back at last, and the country's latest exercise in populism seems to be reaping the rewards of unfulfilled promises bestowed with little attention to economic realities.

Those realities have sharpened with the onset of UN sanctions. Ahmadinejad's casual dismissal of the sanctions has apparently earned him an unprecedented rebuke from the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei - reflecting growing concerns among the political elite, including many conservatives, who are increasingly anxious at Iran's worsening international situation.

Articles like this call to mind the concept of duality. In plain words, "duality" how the same thing may seem different from various vantage points. To the Left, the same hated object America manifests itself in many equivalent forms. It is omnipotent. Everything in the world is due to its actions. It is impotent. It can't clear a street in Haifa, Baghdad, according to the New York Times. It is terribly vulnerable if it does anything, such as attempt to counter the Ayatollahs. But it is invincible if it does nothing but leave things to the UN, as the Guardian article eloquently argues. It continues:

There can be little doubt that US hawks will interpret recent events as proof that pressure works, and that any more pressure will encourage the hawks further. Yet the reality is that while Ahmadinejad has been his own worst enemy, the US hawks are his best friends. Ahmadinejad's demise, if it comes, will have less to do with the international environment and more with his own political incompetence. There is little doubt that it will take more than a cosmetic change to get Washington to listen to Iran. But the real question mark, as the Baker-Hamilton commission found to its cost, is whether Washington is inclined to listen at all.

They would be better off listening to a Zen master expound on the contradictions of the universe than attempt to understand articles in the Guardian.


Blogger Boghie said...

Ahmadinejad IS the cosmetic puppet.

He does not matter in the greater scheme of things. The Ayatollahs matter in that society. Therefore, it really doesn't matter if his popularity rattings fall below Nixon or whatever. All that matters is the direction of the Ayatollahs.

Soon enough Baker-Hamilton will have nobody to speak to. An unfortunate accident will befall Mr. Ahmadinejad before too long.

How long till the Guardian whines about baby milk factories shutting down in Iran because of the sanctions.

Oh well..

1/29/2007 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger Soldier's Dad said...

To be fair, there has been a discussion among national security types in Washington about how to avoid driving nationalism.

IMHO This has been behind an almost complete lack of official comment for the last 3 years related to Irans meddling in Iraq.

The most severe comment being "Iran is being unhelpful".

IMHO The administrations plan is to allow Ahmadnutterjean to demonstrate his impotence to the world in no uncertain terms.

The Aircraft carriers and Patriot batteries are defensive items.

Sustaining nationalist sentiments requires clear victories.

In an area of the world where nuclear tipped penis extensions seem to be all the rage...the indelicate womans observation of "wheres the beef" is a powerful weapon.

1/29/2007 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger lewy14 said...

Wretchard, I've not RTFA and I won't, you did it for me. But ignore the broken Guardian rhetoric for a moment: if Ahmedinijad were a stock, wouldn't you be shorting it right now?

There was a time about a year ago when I thought he could make the jump from Chancellor to Fuhrer. I'm thinking this is much less likely now.

And if he cannot be Furher, then he is the face, the "brand", we want right now. The American "hawks" are not his friend, he is theirs.

If that was all to obtuse, then simply: the last damned thing we want is an Iranian president who is "moderate" and "reasonable", which would give the mullahs cover to continue the nuke program with less hindrance.

1/30/2007 03:38:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Buzz said...

I agree with lewy's assessment of the situation. If the mullahs control everything in country why would they not have control of Ahmed..? He is simply a front man off which they can play "good cop/bad cop". I imagine that they feel that any foreign focus on him and what he says is less on them.

1/30/2007 05:47:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

There's the thought that the Ayatollahs may have decided to turn back to the more pragmatic Rafsanjani and his corrupt, but more prosperity-enhancing, brand of politics.

The Ayatollahs want atomic power and the breathing space needed to bring it into being. Hashemi gives them that, methinks. He may have convinced them that his rival is provoking needless conflict with the West.

I too thought that Ahmadhi-Nejad was a good candidate for Fuhrer. However, it does appear that he has missed the opportunity for his Night of the Long Knives.

1/30/2007 05:55:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

No. We're still trying to decide between clamshell and candybar for our cellphones.

1/30/2007 06:53:00 AM  
Blogger buck smith said...


I think you are missing the strategic premise of the Guardian and the left which is:

"If we are really nice to the jihadis, maybe then they will kill us last."

Maybe it has a better chance of succeeding than changing the Mid-East to capitalist democracies. But I think not. If you are nice to the jihadis, they figure you are an easy kill and kill you first. Like those Christian Peacemaker teams you wrote about, heh.

1/30/2007 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger Minor Ripper said...

Dick Cheney is now Ahmadinejad's best friend. How ironic is that?

1/30/2007 07:26:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

Over and beyond the very real legal and moral problems with a policy of ignoring the sovereignty of other countries, interferring with large nations runs up against a practical problem. What makes you guys think that the United States has the economic and military power to tell the Persians how to run their own affairs? We can certainly blow the place up, nobody's denying that; but a country that can't even pacify the much smaller Iraq doesn't have much prospect of successfully occupying a large nation whose inhabitants have a sense of pride. It's one thing to celebrate a famous victory over a Granada or a Panama, quite another to deal with a real country.

Haven't you guys ever heard of hubris? Or does that concept strike you as too newfangled and Postmodern?

1/30/2007 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger charlotte said...

Lewy14 (great name, btw) is right about Mahmoud the Madhatter being a gift to the Bush administration. A faux-moderate sounding Iranian leader would make marshalling ME, Euro and Asian action and sanctions against the neo-Persian Empire nuclear power wannabe more difficult (which we can barely do as it is, even with Ahmadmanjihadnonad “helping” us.)

James, who’s calling for the occupation of Iran? Virtually nobody. But, yes, we guys have heard of hubris and don’t consider it the least bit newfangled and Postmodern, except when applied to the Progressive-Transnationalist beautiful elitists; wrt Iran, religious-political domination hubristic fantasy is clearly retrogressive and medievalist “traditional.” Does that make it more civilized and acceptable to you?

1/30/2007 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger james said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/30/2007 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger James III said...

(Too many "james" here. Will try again.)

I agree with Charlotte and others above. The only intolerable “hubris” these days is exhibited by those who seek a world Caliphate and would terrorize to attain it, in order to subjugate fellow Muslims and the West under an illiberal, throwback and hateful religious law.

I’d call the Euros hubristic, too, given how they’d rather yoke the generous Americans than stop the barbarians, but “bored and suicidal” may be more apt.

1/30/2007 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger TigerHawk said...

A couple of observations:

1. The author of the linked article, Ali Ansari, is not really a lefty in the blame America sense. His book Confronting Iran is a pretty good exposition of the challenge Iran poses to the West. There is some soft-peddling of Iran's record, but it is serious stuff that most Beltmont Club readers would not recoil from.

2. On the topic of reforming Iran from within, it is interesting that Ali Ansari and Michael Ledeen are not nearly as far apart as either alleges (I know, I've corresponded at some length with both of them). Both Ansari and Ledeen believe that the best means for dealing with Iran is to promote internal reform or even the overthrow or emasculation of the basic structure of the Islamic Republic. Neither support military action against Iran.

3. The difference between Ansari and Ledeen really, I think, comes down to this: Ledeen believes that the opposition within Iran will be emboldened if the United States takes an aggressive posture against the Islamic Republic. Ansari (and, for what it is worth, Kenneth Pollack) believe that an aggressive American policy will weaken the opposition, because it will cause the Iranian center to rally around the government out of nationalism or patriotism. Point is, the differences between Ansari and Ledeen is not in the desired result, but in their prediction of the impact of American policy on internal Iranian politics.

1/30/2007 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Darren Duvall said...

One would assume that the same team that led and still supports the invasion of Iraq would be among the most hawkish of "American Hawks", yet we see no overt actions toward the people of Iran and (other than the presence of Carrier Battle Groups) no evidence that the US is preparing anything like a military push into Iran. The chittering on the left to the contrary, there is no evidence that the US is planning to invade Iran. The US military telegraphs its ground-based punches well in advance, mainly because it takes a really long time to assemble enough 70-ton tanks and the many more tons of ammo, food and fuel that have to arrive by ship to support a ground invasion. The troops are by comparison easy to move -- yet there is no massive redeployment of even an OIF-sized force, much less a Desert Shield/Storm-sized mass of ground forces that would be necessary to invade Iran.

It's always possible that the US could launch an air attack, but that's highly unlikely, simply because it combines the twin downsides of being ineffectual and emboldening to Iranian nationalism. I doubt the US Navy could tell you with certainty that they could prevent mining of the Straits of Hormuz, and the resultant economic disruptions would garner us no friends. I believe Solder's Dad has this correct.

The chosen method seems to be economic starvation, with the US making it very hard for Iran to keep up their oil output over the medium-term. This has some basis in history, the coup that overthrew Mossadegh wouldn't have been possible without the unrest that came from the British-led embargo of Iranian oil sales and resultant economic disruption. A couple more years of declining Iranian oil and gas output and further neglect of their oil infrastructure and the Mullahs and their spokesman of the hour (for now, Ahmedinejad) will be faced with a significant nukes-or-butter choice.

Having a nuclear weapon won't increase their oil production, or undo any of the restrictions on financial transfers the sanctions have imposed. If anything, it will give impetus to make the sanctions worse. A nuclear-armed Iran does make them less likely to be invaded, but it's highly unlikely they would be invaded in any event -- I don't see the benefit. As a defensive weapon, their nukes are the Maginot Line, expensive proof against an attack that won't come. Meanwhile, they become net importers of oil and their economy collapses at an increasing rate. Sit close to the plutonium, children, at least it's warm in the winter.

If Ahmedinejad is hoping for an US attack to save his office, it sure seems like a vain hope from all I see. The "American Hawks" of the Bush Administration have selected their weapon of choice, our dominant position in banking and finance. Iran is waiting for an attack that won't come, and is apparently powerless to do anything about the rust that will claim them from within.

Works for me.

2/02/2007 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger adirondack_1 said...

If the goal of the muslim world is to attack the west on multiple fronts, they are indeed doing what they planned. The west has yet to be divided however the immigration and non-naturalization (being sensitive) of muslims across the entire democratic world has almost divided (confused), including the US, public opinion on whether to have trust in a violent dictator/ religious puppets included or its own elected presidencies. Many think its racist to speak against, legislate against or even fight against a religious organization whether or not it also governs by its own laws in direct conflict with the rest or the worlds values. The danger is that radicalism will spread faster as there is less of a perception of being on the wrong side. No matter what face/ spin you put on islam, be it nationalism, sectarian, radical, moderate or peaceful, it is in fact in text anti everything western. Until the good book of Islam is revised, along with its subparts like sharia, it remains the weapon of choice in the east vs west dynamic.

9/10/2007 07:23:00 AM  

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