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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What the Iranians think

On Sunday morning, three US warships backed off a confrontation with five small Iranian patrol boats at the entrance to the Straits of Hormuz. In today's New York Post, Ralph Peters argues that this was a serious mistake on the Americans' part: They should have sunk the patrol boats.
We should've sunk every one of them.

Not because we're warmongers. But because the Iranians had made threats, verbal and physical, that amounted to acts of war. When will we learn that resolute action taken early saves vast amounts of blood and treasure later?

Oh, from Washington's perspective we did the right thing by "exercising restraint." But Washington's perspective doesn't amount to a gum wrapper in a gutter. What matters is what the Iranians think.

They now believe that the Bush administration, our military and the entire United States are afraid of them.

It goes back to the politicized and irresponsible recent National Intelligence Estimate that insisted the Iranians had abandoned their nuclear-weapons program years ago.

They didn't. They're pursuing enriched uranium as fast as they can. That's what you need for bombs. At most, Tehran ordered its weaponeering efforts to parade rest - until it has the ingredients it needs, after which building bombs won't take long at all.

Forget Washington's trust-fund-twit view of all this: Here's how the train of thought rolled down the tracks in Tehran:

"The Americans have told the world we don't want nuclear weapons, even though they know we do want them. That can only mean that America is afraid to confront us, that their weak, defeated president needs an excuse to back down.

"We can push these cowardly Americans now. They've had enough in Iraq. Their spirits are broken. Their next president will run away like a gazelle pursued by a lion.

"Even their military is frightened of us. On Sunday, America's might bowed down to us. They are frightened and godless, and the time has come to push them."
Peters is right. And he understands something that everyone in this region used to understand, although many Israelis have forgotten it in their bid to be a 'normal country': The Arab world only understands strength. When you back off a confrontation with their patrol boats, you show them you are afraid and they take advantage of that.

Similarly, when you withdraw unilaterally from Lebanon and Gaza (and God forbid Judea and Samaria) and you continue to let them terrorize you, they will terrorize you even more. Israel has been debating for months over what seems like an inevitable need for the IDF to invade Gaza. Every day we put it off, the 'Palestinians' grow more confident. That's the way it is in these parts.

George Bush had it right when he told the world three weeks after 9/11 "you're either with us or with the terrorists." That moral clarity has since been lost in Condi Rice's pandering to Syria and Iran and the ISG report's search for an escape from Iraq. In this region, when you stand up and fight, they back off. When you run away, they run after you. It's a lesson that both the US and Israel would do well to keep in mind.


At 6:49 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Perhaps Iran was angling for a propaganda victory. If the US would have responded, Iran would have been able to claim to local audiences that the US is a war-monger, and that all it takes is for Bush to visit Israel, and they "want to start a war".

By releasing a video of the incident, the US is saying 2 things. To Iran, it says, "We know what you are up to, and will not take your bait".

To the rest of the world it says, "do you see the stupid tricks that Iran tries to play with us?


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