The assumption about Iran that needs to go

"The refineries and oil fields or the factories and power stations of Iran will not be touched.  But we will make the nuclear plants and missile bases unusable because radical leaders — not the majority of the population — threaten Middle Eastern countries with war and even extinction.  Ports from which commercial ships are attacked will also be blocked.  The regular army, artillery, and tanks, however, are not threatened.  For in the future Iran must be able to defend itself or even take part in peace missions."

This could be the justification if a military response has to be initiated to stop Iranian attacks from the coasts of the Indian Ocean to the borders of Israel.  It is aimed at a population with above-average education that could achieve a lot if organized as a democracy.  At the International Mathematic Olympiads, Iran ranks eleventh on average for the decade 2010–2019, while Germany — with 83 million inhabitants — has to make do with the twentieth.

The rationality of President Obama's Iran policy and that of his secretary of state, John Kerry, consisted in building on Iran's civilian and civilizing potential.  However, they underestimated the willingness of Shiite mullahs to create the catastrophic circumstances laid out in sacred texts for the long awaited appearance of the twelfth but hitherto hidden imam.  This Mahdi — or "savior" — would bring about a new world.  How much these extremists resemble other millenarians is shown by the belief that the Mahdi will appear in tandem with Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus, the Son of Mary).

The susceptibility to such beliefs was so pronounced during the Islamic Revolution of 1978–79 because at that time, the youths born in the 1950s had to take up the struggle for life.  Their mothers had an average of seven children.  The war index stood between 4 and 5.  Four thousand to 5,000 angry young men had to compete for 1,000 vacated positions.  Already the pubescents were ready — for instance in the Iraq war of 1980–1988 — to sacrifice themselves as living mine-clearers in front of the enemy positions.

Today, those born around 2000 are at the age best suited for the idealism required for a heroic death.  The Prussian infantry teacher Colmar von der Goltz (The People in Arms, 1883) already understood this with his "only the young let go of life easily."  At that time, the mothers in Berlin had the same number of children as the women in Tehran a century later.

But the Iranian mothers of 2000 raise no longer seven, but only two children — i.e., only one son.  For the readiness to kill and die, there is a lack of offspring.  The fear — also of Western commanders — of Iranian masses waiting to set the whole Middle East on fire lives on the blood-soaked images of the revolution forty years ago.  The demography on which these fears were based is over.  Iran's young want to work on their future and not die for an aging doomsday priesthood.

Gunnar Heinsohn (*1943) taught war demography at NATO Defense College (NDC) in Rome from 2011 to 2019.  In Stavanger in 2018, he delivered the keynote address for the 15th birthday of NATO's Joint Warfare Center (JWC).

"The refineries and oil fields or the factories and power stations of Iran will not be touched.  But we will make the nuclear plants and missile bases unusable because radical leaders — not the majority of the population — threaten Middle Eastern countries with war and even extinction.  Ports from which commercial ships are attacked will also be blocked.  The regular army, artillery, and tanks, however, are not threatened.  For in the future Iran must be able to defend itself or even take part in peace missions."

This could be the justification if a military response has to be initiated to stop Iranian attacks from the coasts of the Indian Ocean to the borders of Israel.  It is aimed at a population with above-average education that could achieve a lot if organized as a democracy.  At the International Mathematic Olympiads, Iran ranks eleventh on average for the decade 2010–2019, while Germany — with 83 million inhabitants — has to make do with the twentieth.

The rationality of President Obama's Iran policy and that of his secretary of state, John Kerry, consisted in building on Iran's civilian and civilizing potential.  However, they underestimated the willingness of Shiite mullahs to create the catastrophic circumstances laid out in sacred texts for the long awaited appearance of the twelfth but hitherto hidden imam.  This Mahdi — or "savior" — would bring about a new world.  How much these extremists resemble other millenarians is shown by the belief that the Mahdi will appear in tandem with Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus, the Son of Mary).

The susceptibility to such beliefs was so pronounced during the Islamic Revolution of 1978–79 because at that time, the youths born in the 1950s had to take up the struggle for life.  Their mothers had an average of seven children.  The war index stood between 4 and 5.  Four thousand to 5,000 angry young men had to compete for 1,000 vacated positions.  Already the pubescents were ready — for instance in the Iraq war of 1980–1988 — to sacrifice themselves as living mine-clearers in front of the enemy positions.

Today, those born around 2000 are at the age best suited for the idealism required for a heroic death.  The Prussian infantry teacher Colmar von der Goltz (The People in Arms, 1883) already understood this with his "only the young let go of life easily."  At that time, the mothers in Berlin had the same number of children as the women in Tehran a century later.

But the Iranian mothers of 2000 raise no longer seven, but only two children — i.e., only one son.  For the readiness to kill and die, there is a lack of offspring.  The fear — also of Western commanders — of Iranian masses waiting to set the whole Middle East on fire lives on the blood-soaked images of the revolution forty years ago.  The demography on which these fears were based is over.  Iran's young want to work on their future and not die for an aging doomsday priesthood.

Gunnar Heinsohn (*1943) taught war demography at NATO Defense College (NDC) in Rome from 2011 to 2019.  In Stavanger in 2018, he delivered the keynote address for the 15th birthday of NATO's Joint Warfare Center (JWC).