April 11, 2007
Who is Mahmoud's Target?By James Lewis
The Soviets used to accuse the West of engaging in provocation --- prrrovokatsya, with a long rolled rrr --- one of those Cold War words that are still useful today. Well, the hirsute one, Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejad, has been hopping around like a male chimp performing a threat display --- pant-hooting, baring his big canine teeth, and tearing off branches to impress the hell out of all the other apes. He's obviously trying to get a rise out of us.
Kidnapping the Brit-kids was one provocation, and now he has topped it by putting on an "national nuclear holiday."
As the Telegraph writes,
Like Adolf Hitler, Ahmadi-nejad loves a big show. The news photo shows him in front of an Iranian flag with painted inside an atomic energy symbol. Not a comfortable symbol for Iranian patriots --- imagine seeing the US flag flying inside of an atomic energy symbol. It's beyond bizarre by any civilized standards, just like the infamous "uranium dancers" of a couple of years ago, performing their fancy-dress folk dances bearing shiny bars of metallic uranium. This is the stuff the same of dark comedy often seen in North Korean mass spectacles.
According to Ahmadi-nejad, today's celebration is supposed to show "the greatness of the Iranian nation," and its "scientific progress." But uranium enrichment was demonstrated by Enrico Fermi around 1934, so "the greatness of Iranian scientific progress" is 70 some years behind the times. Tehran's scientists and engineers know that, of course.
So who is Ahmadi-nejad trying to impress?
It's a puzzle. The serious players in the world probably have a reasonable idea of real Iranian nuclear technology. They are not going to be affected by all the pant-hooting hullaballoo. His internal enemies are not going to be affected either, except maybe getting scared of being evaporated in a nuclear Armageddon ad majorem dei gloriam --- for the greater glory of Allah. That's not their style. They want nukes, but they think it's idiotic to make a big public fuss about it.
So what's the answer? My guess is that, like the pant-hooting chimp, Ahmadi-nejad is trying to control his own anxiety. Here's a man who preaches over and over again that he wants to conquer the world for Allah --- if necessary, by martyring himself and the people of Iran in a nuclear exchange with Israel and America. But his whole life experience is of cultural inferiority. The mullahs are reactionary throw-backs living in the 21st century, and live with an incredible of cognitive dissonance. They know their actual level of incapability. How do you cope? Well, you can only try to bluff and steal their toys.
Nuclear weapons are supposed to be the great equalizer, of course, which will make up for all those feelings of inferiority. But nukes are much more likely to end up as the great vaporizer of the regime itself. Ahmadi-nejad is a little man trying to act like a big man, and using displays of fearful power to succeed --- as he always has, in his tiny, closed world of ayatollahs and their fantasies. According to the MK (Marxist) rebels against Tehran, Ahmadi-nejad started as a prison interrogator and executioner for Khomeini. He has dealt with helpless opponents all his life.
Inspiring terror has always worked for him.
Ahmadi-nejad is quite ignorant about the larger world. On his recent visit to Saudi Arabia he was unable to talk directly with the King because he does not even speak Arabic --- the sacred language of the Koran. Apparently he left Saudi Arabia in a huff because the King told him what kind of danger he was creating for his own people. The Saudis must view him as a dangerous ignoramus. By comparison, many of the surrounding rulers, like King Abdullah of Jordan, are worldly and sophisticated. Even Bashar Assad went to school in France and Britain.
When people like that get very scared they can act out. In Ahmadi-nejad's case, he isn't allowed to act out freely, because he's kept on a leash by the Supreme Guide Ayatollah Khamenei, and presumably by mullah groups like the Expediency Council. So his leash was yanked when he wanted to fly to New York to confront the UN Security Council last month. After broadcasting his intention to confront the infidels in New York City, Mahmoud wasn't allowed to go, perhaps because saner councils prevailed. Instead, the regime compromised by kidnapping some helpless British sailors and Royal Marines from Iraqi waters, to take public attention away from the humiliation of UN sanctions.
So Ahmadi-nejad was allowed a symbolic triumph by his controllers. Today's national nuclear day celebration is just more of the same. It's showbiz.
One hypothesis is that Ahmadi-nejad is engaging in a grand provokatsya, trying to trigger an emotional reaction from the West --- either retreat, or an unsustainable attack. Now that's not going to work with Bush and Cheney, who are pretty good poker players. It's not going to work with Tony Blair, in spite of the depressing recent performance of the Royal Navy. It's not going to work with Israel, which will fight all out, but only when it absolutely must. Oddly enough, these chimp displays only work to scare the Western public, especially on the Left, which may be slowly emerging out of its state of denial by seeing Ahmadi-nejad doing his nuclear song and dance.
Strategically, any action against this hair-raising regime must occur at a time and place of our choosing.
If and when we go for regime change in Tehran, it must be fast, clean, and evoked by clear and present danger.
Well, Ahmadi-nejad is helping to set the stage. Already 52 percent of Europeans, not famous for thinking clearly about rogue regimes, believe that violence may be justified to overthrow the Khomeinist regime. That's a couple of years after most of them threw screaming fits about the overthrow of Saddam. Ahmadi-nejad's chimp display seems to be having the opposite effect he intended.
Even the British Independent (not politically independent at all, but left-wing to the eyebrows) just headlined: "Another Step Toward a Showdown with America." So the Independent has been loudly abusing George W. Bush for seven solid years, and now it casually expects American presidential action to protect the world from the nuclear crazies of Tehran. (Thanks for your support, fellas!)
There is a case to be made for turning the screws on the mullahs slowly and steadily, while the regime drives itself mad with anticipation. It can't be any fun today in the halls of power of Tehran and Qom, watching three US carrier groups converging on them, and not knowing if or when they will hear the boom of GPS-guided cruise missiles and bombs in Qom and Natanz. The Israelis will surely take action if they perceive that their backs are against the nuclear wall, and they won't pull punches this time. Secretly, the Saudis, the Gulf States, the Egyptians and the Iraqis would rejoice in successful strikes against Tehran's nukes and command and control centers. All the interested powers must have espionage lines running into the regime for their own purposes, and accurate intelligence is of course the key to successful action. We must assume that all the neighboring nations are sharing intelligence on the common threat. So keep turning the screws slowly, and don't strike until you are good and ready.
If there is enough time before Tehran's nukes are dispersed like dandelion seeds on the wind, economic sanctions and sabotage should be tried. A decade of sanctions helped to weaken Saddam's regime before 2003. Special ops forces can conduct industrial sabotage and make life hard for Iran's proxies in Iraq. Already a slew of suspicious plane crashes has been killing cadres of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. And some of the upper ranks of the Guard have apparently defected, showing that the regime has been penetrated. The upper mullahs and Guards must be madly suspicious of each other. It's even possible that the high-level defectors abandoned the country in recent weeks because they could no longer stand waiting for those bombs to drop.
Given all those pressures, Ahmadi-nejad's flashy performances makes some sense. It could be that he is putting on the threat display not for his opposition, internal or external, but for himself and his inner councils. They mullahs must convince themselves that they are powerful and secure, because they know that the world is increasingly turned against them. Even the Sunni Arabs don't love them any more.
We just may be seeing the beginning of the end of Tehran's terror regime.
James Lewis is a frequent contributor to Anerican Thinker. He blogs at www.dangeroustimes.wordpress.com