[Mb-civic] FW: There's method in the Mahdi madness of Iran's
grgolsorkhi at earthlink.net
Sat Jan 14 11:03:48 PST 2006
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From: Samii Shahla <shahla at thesamiis.com>
Date: Sat, 14 Jan 2006 13:02:26 -0500
Subject: There's method in the Mahdi madness of Iran's president
> There's method in the Mahdi madness of Iran's president
> By Charles Moore
> Iran has "broken the seals". The phrase refers to the seals placed by UN
> nuclear inspectors on equipment that, unsealed, enables uranium enrichment,
> making possible the development of a nuclear bomb.
> It has a suitably apocalyptic ring. In the Book of Revelation, the Lamb breaks
> the seven seals and earth-shattering violence ensues: "the heaven departed as
> a scroll when it is rolled together And the kings of the earth, and the great
> men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men hid
> themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains".
> Our own not-quite-chief captain, Jack Straw, took refuge instead in a BBC
> studio. It is almost physically impossible to keep one's attention on the
> Foreign Secretary as he smothers meaning in his blanket of official phrases
> about IAEA governing bodies and Chapter Seven UN Resolutions and "prior
> stages" before anything like sanctions actually happens, but I did hear him
> yesterday venture the opinion that "in Iran things are difficult". You've got
> to give it to the man: he's right.
> It is just a pity that Mr Straw recognises it only now. Ever since he became
> Foreign Secretary in 2001, Mr Straw - and British policy more generally - has
> been devoted to the idea that we can make friends with Iran.
> Mr Straw went there five times on those expeditions that the Foreign Office
> loves as much as botanists love the search for rare seeds in the Karakoram -
> hunting for the "moderates". Our eggs were placed in the fragile basket of
> former President Khatami's "reformists" and were duly addled. In the
> presidential election last year, Britain decided that the winner would be
> another "moderate", Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
> Mr Rafsanjani is "moderate" only in the sense that Molotov was more moderate
> than Stalin or Goering than Hitler, but anyway, this man of Straw did not win.
> The victor was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the mayor of Teheran.
> Since coming to power, Mr Ahmadinejad has organised an international
> conference designed to prove that the Holocaust never happened and has
> declared it the aim of Iranian policy to "wipe Israel off the map". Now he is
> fulfilling his country's long-planned strategy of making the means to do just
> that: he has broken the seals. Iran can have its own Bomb in four years or so.
> Relentless media attention in the West has focused on the errors of the
> Coalition in Iraq, and plenty of errors there have been. But almost no
> scrutiny from press or Opposition has been given to the way that the
> supposedly intransigent George Bush has actually been so accommodating to
> European sensibilities that he has delegated the policy on Iran to Europe.
> This has produced the current disaster.
> For years now, the "EU Three" - Britain, France and Germany - have been in
> charge, emboldened since 2005 by the personal support of Condoleezza Rice, the
> US secretary of state. They have wanted to believe that they were dealing with
> a power that was negotiating in good faith. They have spurred that power on to
> greater excesses by declaring that Western military action was (Mr Straw's
> word) "inconceivable". They have hoped against hope and against evidence. Only
> this week did they finally admit defeat. They agreed, which earlier they had
> refused, to try to take Iran's behaviour to the Security Council.
> What is the West facing in the government of Iran? I read in yesterday's Times
> that President Ahmadinejad is a "naïve extremist". It is an assumption of
> Western foreign policy elites that extremists are, by definition, naïve, but
> is it so?
> The point about Iran since 1979 is that it has been governed by
> revolutionaries; and the history of revolutionaries - successful ones, anyway
> - is that they are often mad and bad and incredibly skilful all at the same
> Thus Hitler could genuinely believe in crazed racial theory and outmanoeuvre
> the chancelleries of Europe. Thus Chairman Mao could promote deranged,
> famine-inducing economics, while at the same time keeping a grip on power for
> a quarter of a century.
> Westerners tend to see the Iranian revolution as "medieval", but this is a
> slander on the Middle Ages. "Twentieth century" would be the more accurate
> description. When Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in Iran, he encouraged his
> lieutenants to be well versed in the history of revolutions, particularly the
> communist revolution in Russia.
> If you look at Iranian "democracy" today, you will see that the only
> candidates allowed are those committed to the constitution's idea of the
> "guardianship of the clergy" (a rule which, at the last parliamentary
> election, permitted the Council of Guardians to disqualify 6,000 of the 7,000
> who wanted to stand).
> This is a religious version of the Leninist idea of the "leading role of the
> party". In 1979, Khomeini said that his revolution was the first step ''in
> correcting the past of Muslim history''. He meant radicalising Shiism to take
> over the Muslim world.
> That's what Ahmadinejad means, too. Last September, he addressed the United
> Nations in a speech that called on God to hurry up and send along his
> "Promised One". This was a reference to the strong Shi'ite belief in a Mahdi,
> or Hidden Messenger, who will reappear in the world to rule it aright.
> Recalling his own speech afterwards, Mr Ahmadinejad said: "One of our group
> told me that, when I started to say 'In the name of God, the almighty, the
> merciful', he saw a light around me and I was placed inside this aura. I felt
> it myself. I felt the atmosphere suddenly change and, for those 27 or 28
> minutes, the leaders of the world did not blink."
> By putting himself inside this aura, Mr Ahmadinejad may be at once sincere and
> cynical. He may truly think that God is bringing the Mahdi his way, but he
> will also know that by identifying with this strand of Shi'ism he can seem to
> be a Robin Hood for the poor against corruption. He may also be hinting, some
> experts believe, that, if the Hidden Messenger is coming, the increasingly
> unpopular clergy and their Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Khamenei) could be
> superseded by truly holy, non-clerical persons, eg himself and his
> Revolutionary Guard.
> The Bomb, blessed by God, will make Iran proud. It will force the West to let
> Iran dictate terms in the region, give Mr Ahmadinejad the prestige to crush
> dissent in his own country and help him grab world Muslim leadership, taking
> over Iraq. Mad, perhaps, terrifying, certainly, but perfectly sane as a way of
> staying on top.
> What can we do? There may be sanctions and other forms of isolation that would
> work. For instance, although full of crude oil, Iran is short of petrol and
> has to import a great deal from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Without that, it
> would be in trouble.
> But the bigger question concerns the West's extraordinary indulgence (Mr Straw
> calls it "patience") towards the regime. Why don't we distinguish government
> from people and reach out to the latter? In the contest of the West with
> revolutionaries, we win in the end when we help their victims rise up against
> them, when the people themselves, not our tanks, take down the Berlin Wall.
> Iran's recklessness
> Saturday, January 14, 2006
> There is no longer room for doubt that Iran is determined to develop nuclear
> weapons, its protestations of peaceful intent notwithstanding.
> Earlier this week, Iranian authorities removed seals placed by the United
> Nations on a key uranium enrichment plant. In doing so, Iran rebuffed
> concerted European attempts at negotiation and offers of generous economic
> aid, as well as a Russian plan to help Iran make utilities-grade nuclear fuel
> in Russia.
> The seals, which blocked access to centrifuges likely obtained with the help
> of rogue nuclear scientists in Pakistan, posed no roadblock to a civilian
> nuclear energy program. The inescapable conclusion is that Iran's radical
> rulers seek the ability to produce the more highly enriched fuel needed for
> nuclear weapons.
> The British, German and French foreign ministers were right to end their
> futile negotiations with Iran. Along with the United States, they should now
> follow through -- with as much international consensus as possible -- on their
> threat to refer Iran's intransigence to the U.N. Security Council for
> condemnation and possible sanctions.
> The obstacles to such action have been Russia and China. But Russia is
> increasingly frustrated and may acquiesce, in which case China, which
> traditionally seeks to avoid isolation in international affairs, may
> reluctantly drop its objections.
> Unfortunately, however, it is not clear that even sanctions, let alone a less
> drastic U.N. denunciation, will change Iranian behavior.
> Iran's leaders seem impervious to most economic hardships and indifferent to
> foreign opinion. And it is unlikely that buyers are likely to turn their backs
> on Iran's major source of income: oil. Indeed, a boycott would lead to a spike
> in oil and gasoline prices and would be unpopular among many Americans.
> Ultimately, the U.S. and Europe may have little choice but to make clear --
> carefully but firmly -- that they are prepared to consider military options.
> Such discussion might get Iran's attention. It could increase the chances that
> European resistance will give way over time to a NATO role, if a military
> crisis arises. And it should provide an incentive for Russia and China to
> ratchet up their pressure onIran quickly.
> Military action is not the appropriate response now, nor is it the next step.
> But President Bush and his European counterparts should emphasize that they
> simply will not tolerate nuclear weapons in the hands of an extremist regime
> that threatens others in apocalyptic terms, calls for eradication of Israel
> and could plunge the entirePersian Gulf region into war.
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