Moscow, 1985. The world is riveted as the 24th and final game of the World Chess Championship begins with young Kasparov leading the contest 4 - 3. The chess prodigy needs only a draw against his older and more experienced opponent Anatoly Karpov to win his first world title and be crowned the youngest world champion in history.
Karpov begins by executing an aggressive attack against Kasparov’s king. “No price is too great for the scalp of the enemy King,” fellow Russian chess master Koblentz once commented. A win for Karpov would tie the match and foil the boy wonder’s title aspirations. Kasparov observes his opponent’s assault, reasons, calculates, tabulates and then in an amazing turn of play, sacrifices a pawn to block Karpov’s surge. The decade-long champion’s incursion fails; Kasparov wins, stunning the world with his ingenuity and boldness. His sacrificial calculation proved unbeatable and earned him the prize on which he had his eyes since boyhood.
Two decades later another boy wonder has stepped onto the platform with his eyes on the prize. And again the world is riveted to the stage on which this strategic mastermind plays. Only in this game, the stakes are much higher and due to the enormous prize, the gamesman is willing to sacrifice much more than a pawn. The trophy? Regional hegemony and a giant step towards the revolutionary raison d’etre of the Islamic Republic of Iran:
The Constitution, having regard to the Islamic contents of the Iranian Revolution, which was a movement for the victory of all the oppressed over the arrogant, provides a basis for the continuation of that revolution both inside and outside the country. It particularly tries to do this in developing international relations with other Islamic movements and peoples, so as to prepare the way towards a united single world community. (The Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran)
For Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, A-Jad for short (no offense to the Yankee prodigy), his “Game 24” has arrived and instead of a chess title, victory means Iran’s irreversible progress as Allah’s divinely ordained tool (a good word here) toward the establishment of the “united single world community” or the Islamic Caliphate - a global Islamic government that would look, taste, feel and breath like the current Islamic Republic of Iran.
A-Jad and his coach, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hossayni Khamenei, as well as their ½ to 1 million-man army, including 125,000 highly trained Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), have all sworn allegiance to this constitutional mission/mandate. The Religious Army commanded by A-Jad has an even further specific constitutional “responsibility not only for the safeguarding of the frontiers, but also for a religious mission, which is Holy War (JIHAD) along the way of God, and the struggle to extend the supremacy of God's Law in the world.” (Iranian Constitution Preamble)
As with all men with fire in their minds, A-Jad and Team Iran are not only living for this purpose, but will die for it if necessary. And in this most serious final game being played, nuclear technology and weaponry are the keys to their kingdom come.
Sitting opposite A-Jad and Team Iran are the Western powers led by the US which over the last quarter century have arrogantly toyed with their opponent, affording their challenger the respect and credibility of a third rate farm team. But the amateur club now sits at the final table and their star player has not only secured the Kasparov advantage, but in his own mind, has so outplayed his nemesis (as have his team mates for the last 25 years) that, incredulously, he has even declared that his victory is inevitable before the match ends.
“They (his more formidable opponent) do not dare wage war against us and I base this on a double proof…I am an engineer and I am a master in calculation and tabulation. I draw up tables. For hours, I write out different hypotheses. I reject, I reason. I reason with planning and I make a conclusion. They cannot make problems for Iran.”
The ex-engineer, ex-Internal Security Department “Interrogator” of the Revolutionary Guard, ex-Mayor of Tehran’s second proof: “I believe in what Allah says.”
For Team Iran, victory is inevitable because even if their “drunk and arrogant” opponent makes a last ditch surge to capture their prized nuclear queen by going to war, they won’t be able to do it. Team America’s pieces have been depleted, and with A-Jad’s pieces positioned as they are, any move on the part of his opponent is a futile effort. Team Iran’s Lady of Destruction will remain. Mission accomplished.
A-Jad celebrated his fait accompli last month by taking an early victory lap. Arriving in the “The Lion’s Den” of the United States of Babylon, the prodigy was garnered with all the media attention of a hometown hero. Pompously parading through his opponent’s backyard, A-Jad culminated the show with a lengthy, teary-eyed victory speech before a world delegation of admirers at the UN. The oration began with his traditional call to Allah to speed up the arrival of his savior, Imam Al-Mahdi, who is hiding in an old well outside Tehran. He then quickly moved to his self congratulatory announcement:
...By the grace of faith in Allah and national unity, Iran has moved forward step by step and now our country is recognized as one with the capacity for industrial scale fuel cycle production for peaceful uses...
Previously, they (his opponent) illegally insisted on politicizing the Iranian nation's nuclear case, but today, because of the resistance of the Iranian nation, the issue is back to the Agency, and I officially announce that in our opinion the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed and has turned into an ordinary Agency matter.
Many attending the sermon thought A-Jad would conclude with some sort of thanks to his team mates (the Revolutionary Guards), the coach (Khamenei) and the estimated 100,000 twelve to sixteen year old human pawns of the Basij (Iran’s “voluntary” citizen militia), who the late master-coach Aytollah Khomeini forced to march in formation across minefields toward the enemy, clearing a path with their bodies during the Iran/Iraq war of the 80s. He didn’t thank any of them, only the audience for enduring his homily, and Allah who willed that the Basij, the Islamic Republic’s first suicide kid martyrs, wear little green plastic keys (made in Taiwan) tied around their neck as they marched to their gory destruction. The keys, the boys were told, were a symbol reminding them that blowing themselves up opened the doors of paradise. A-Jad then bowed slightly and took his leave. It was official: Iran won, Team America lost and the nuclear issue was closed.
But what makes him so certain the nuclear issue is closed? A-Jad arrives at this conclusion because he sees only two possible outcomes to the nuclear stand-off. Either the US will attack (with or without its allies) or they won’t. Here’s his irrefutable syllogism: The Islamic Republic of Iran will have nuclear weapon making capability if the US does not attack. The US will not attack. Therefore, Iran will have the capability.
Ah ha! you say. This means that if the US attacks, we’ll stop him. Not so fast says Boy Wonder. Even if the US attacks, Iran will still at some point have nuclear weapon making capability. So if the US does attack, Iran still gets its nukes, albeit some day. Only if the US (or some other power) determines to attack and attack and keep attacking will Iran be stopped. No power has the will to do this. The queen will always be there for Iran. Eye on the prize.
Take the first proposition, he reasons: Team America does not go to war against Iran. Implications: the UN sends another letter to coach Khamenei, and sanctions continue (possibly even harsher ones are imposed.) Like Iraq before it (and all other UN sanctioned nations before Iraq) A-Jad simply goes around the unenforceable suggestions and inspection teams, working closely with his friends Chavez, Assad and Kim to get the supplies and resources needed to survive – all the while enriching uranium and multiplying centrifuges. And because Russia and China oppose any further sanctions, they too help A-Jad, reaping the economic and diplomatic rewards of staying “neutral.” It is this unacceptable scenario that has Bush and Cheney in a conniption.
Since this option ends in certain defeat for Team America, the only other possible way to play the game and halt A-Jad’s queen, is to attack Iran like Hersh thinks the Bush Administration is preparing to do. What would be the consequences of this proposition? First, of course, Iran’s known nuclear facilities would be turned into burnt toast, as would their known military facilities, air defenses, arms production centers and terrorist training camps. But as one of A-Jad’s team mates, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander Mohammad Ali J'afari, hinted last month,
The intelligence that the West currently has on Iran's nuclear program is limited to the sites accessible to IAEA inspectors, and more than that they do not know... Is the [total] number of Iran's nuclear facilities [really] limited to those facilities that have been reported - so that America can be certain that by destroying them it will destroy Iran's entire nuclear program, or at least set it back for a very long time?
With all the confidence the US has in the international watchdog agency, American intelligence on the whereabouts of Iran’s nuclear and military establishments does go beyond the IAEA. In fact, there is the MEK, the Mujahadeen-e-Khalq, a previously designated terrorist group of Iranian origin that, instead of being radically Islamic like the victors in the 1979 Iranian revolution, were more radically Marxist. They ended up siding with our good friend Saddam Hussein, so of course their intelligence should be good. Yes, they did expose the location of the Natanz enrichment facility as well as the heavy water research reactor in Arak. But wouldn’t Iran know that the MEK knew this and thereby that the US (and the IAEA) would eventually discover these facilities? Chess masters always think many moves ahead.
More reliable intelligence regarding Iran’s capabilities (nuclear and military) have come from defectors, scientists and academics traveling abroad as well as the exile community which regularly travels back and forth to Iran from the US and Europe. Nuclear expert David Albright says this information is more reliable than the faulty information regarding Iraq’s WMD programs that the Iraqi scientists, academics and exile community provided because, “rarely would Iraqi [expatriates] ever go to Iraq. We didn’t have this information.” He doesn’t explain how the US can truly know if the information being offered from the Iranian exile community is compromised or a deliberately planted false flag (Hitler used these deception techniques masterfully in the Venlo Incident.)
Albright does, however, send a warning regarding the possibility of Iran having unknown centrifuge plants: “There’s nothing distinctive about a centrifuge facility, which is impossible to find if a country chooses to hide it.”
A-Jad has used his mathematical mind to tabulate all the other possible consequences to a US attack, all of which he concludes would only make the US weaker at home and abroad and none of which would capture his queen. Take, for starters, international scorn. Barring a 9/11 event directly attributable to Iran, any direct attack on Iran (let alone 2500 sorties) would result in increased world outrage against the US and increased prestige or sympathy for Iran. This is a positive outcome for Iran. Rook takes Knight, G8.
In addition to increased international condemnation, a US attack would also lead to massive retaliation by Iran, certainly in ways that the US cannot completely forecast. One predictable recoil, however, would be the use of Hezbollah as their international IED against America’s interests abroad and at home. According to Barbara Newman and Tom Diaz, authors of Lighting Out of Lebannon, Hezbollah Terrorists on American Soil, the #3 at the FBI is convinced "Hezbollah makes Al-Qaeda look like Sunday-schoolers, children, kindergartners." Additionally, they document that at least 14 US cities where Hezbollah has been under investigation: Boston; New York; Newark; Atlanta; Miami-Fort Lauderdale; Tampa-St. Petersburg; Charlotte; Louisville; Detroit-Dearborn; Chicago; Houston; Los Angeles; San Francisco; and Portland and estimate there are many more investigations they don’t know about.
That Hezbollah is in America and operating is not in dispute among intelligence and law enforcement officials. The question is the extent of their preparation for and willingness to attack. Walid Phares, Director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, believes Hezbollah has “already acquired its strategic targets” in America. Executive Director of Central Ohioans Against Terrorism, Patrick Poole documents the litany of recent penetrations, smugglings and illegal entries Hezbollah has made into US territory. Their own Secretary-General (who studied under coach Khamenei), Hassan Nasrallah does not mince words about the organization’s objectives: "... We reaffirm the slogan of the struggle against the Great Satan and call, like last year: 'Death to America. To the murderers of the prophets, the grandsons of apes and pigs,' we say: ... 'Death to Israel...'"
Undoubtedly, a wave of suicide attacks on US interests would cause significant economic, political and social injury to America. And a weakened, even crippled America and West is not only desired by Team Iran, it is expected at some point as a necessity, and therefore an inevitability, for the global caliphate to be established. Such attacks would be justified by Iran as lex talionis (qisas in Arabic) – an eye for an eye. Pawn takes Rook, D2.
And such a justification, A-Jad knows, brings an even further advance for Iran - possibly the one that would accrue to the greatest advantage in their quest for the caliphate: the increased credibility they would achieve among Islamists and Islamic regimes around the globe. As in the aftermath of 9/11 and Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, posters of A-Jad would likely appear alongside Osama and Nasrallah throughout the Islamic social centers of the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. Jihadist recruitment would sky rocket, more Jihadist organizations would emerge, and maybe most significantly, relations and cooperation between Iran and Al-Qaeda would not only strengthen but could now be openly justified (see Iran's Proxy War Against America by Thomas Joscelyn of the Claremont Institute for details of Iran’s relationship with Al Qaeda and Iran’s involvement in 9/11.) Rook takes Bishop, F4.
Yes there would massive destruction in Iran if the US attacks, but A-Jad and Team Iran know that with these repercussions, the fight would deal a more devastating strategic blow to America. Revolutionary Iran has shown in the past that they are willing to sacrifice more than a pawn to obtain their constitutionally mandated objective of an Islamic world government. In addition to the 100,000+ adolescent martyrs the Islamic Republic sent to their suicidal deaths, the regime may have lost upwards of a million adult men in their war with Iraq. This is on top of the 60,000 “martyrs” Team Iran lost seizing power during the Revolution.
Losing a few hundred thousand in this mother of all matches would not shake the regime. Instead, as with their other losses in the past, it would be considered a glorious blood offering to their god of the Kabba which would only strengthen the resolve of this Republic which invented suicide bombings. (Might Team Iran even be willing to be the first suicide nation?) Knight takes Bishop, C7.
But it is not only the unacceptably high cost that the US will pay that convinces A-Jad that America won’t attack, it is the fact that even with an attack, US and Western objectives cannot be achieved.
A-Jad has ciphered that the maximum loss for Iran in any kind of US air assault would be acceptable on Iran’s cost/benefit scale. Convinced that the US couldn’t possibly send enough boots to fight a successful ground war inside Iran while it continues its contests in Iraq and Afghanistan, Team Iran knows their borders are safe. But even if Team America was foolish enough to try, A-Jad is confident that his ½ to 1 million man army and upwards of 11 million trained Basij militia volunteers will without hesitation give their lives to protect the queen, resist occupation and advance the global Islamic revolution. Such dedication invalidates the possibility of occupation, they ruminate. And this, Team Iran resolves, prevents the royal US objective: regime change. Bishop takes Queen, B6.
The best our Red, White and Blue can hope for, the Persian phenom cogitates, would be to knock out the known targets from the air and by on-going guerilla-type sabotage. But even here, while the bombs dropped and the Special Forces tried to figure out where the real reactors and weapon systems are located, A-Jad and Team Iran would hide securely in their Russian built bunkers that are too deep for our weapons to penetrate. In the meantime, Team Hezbollah and Al Qaeda would jihad American interests at home (possibly with dirty bombs or even suitcase nukes) and around the world sending America (and possibly the world) into an economic tailspin. And after the smart-bomb dust settled, A-Jad would begin to rebuild. Or more likely, while rebuilding, he would continue to enrich his uranium in the centrifuge facilities that he had hidden from us all along. Checkmate. Mark S. Hanna is the Director of TNET, a non-profit organization which produces and translates educational material for closed countries. email@example.com