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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Death wish?

I knew that Ahmadinejad was seeking to bring about an apocalypse that would bring the Twelfth Imam and that he was willing to sacrifice half his country in the process to destroy Israel (God forbid). But if this article is correct, Ahmadinejad may be seeking to bring about a little bit of death and destruction in his country for a whole different reason.

At The Moderate Voice, Brij Khindaria argues that what Ahmadinejad really wants is to goad Israel into a 'premature' attack on his nuclear facilities that will cause just enough death and destruction to light the flames of Iranian 'patriotism' and keep the regime in power (Hat Tip: Memeorandum). In this scenario, Ahmadinejad is not seeking to destroy Israel, but to keep himself in power, and he is banking his hopes on precise Israeli and American weaponry that will damage his nuclear program without killing enough Iranians to destroy his government.
In the current situation, the first step to achieving the regime’s ambitions is to tighten control over the Iranian people. This is the agenda underlying Iran’s diplomacy. It wants wider talks on regional security arrangements that leave its regime and regional power intact while freeing it from all sanctions.

If such talks are definitely not on offer, the regime may prefer limited Israeli attacks because it can then stifle the opposition and assert quasi totalitarian rule for decades to come.

The Iran regime would fear an Israeli strike only if there were massive civilian casualties because that would end its rule. However, knowing the precision of Israeli and American weapons, it expects just enough casualties to rouse nationalist outrage causing the people to unify behind it.

The attacks would be a blessing in disguise because the regime is very shaky currently thanks to a worsening economy, corruption, unemployment, poor infrastructure, electricity outages and gasoline shortages. The anger against America in the region would be a bonus.
Khindaria's prescription to upset Iran's plans is to let Iran's government dig its own grave through incompetence.
Postponing attacks has one clear advantage. It gives more time to Iran’s theocrats to dig their own graves through incompetence in bringing prosperity to their people.

In recent years, they survived because of the people’s nationalism after Bush called Iran an “axis of evil” and the war option was put on the table. They will not survive for long if the people are certain that no foreigners will attack their country.

If the fear of American-backed Sunni power and Israel is removed from the equation, the extremists in the current regime may be dethroned well before scientists can deliver nuclear capability. Then, the fear of a second holocaust would disappear forever.
I gather that Khindaria is not living in Israel and is not stationed among US troops in Iraq or the Persian Gulf, and therefore he can afford to take a chance like that. Sorry, but no. I'd be very happy to see the Iranian opposition rise up and throw Ahmadinejad out of office, but thus far he has been way too effective in suppressing dissent and way too clear about his goals and intentions for Israel. I would not risk postponing an attack until Iran can enrich enough uranium to make a nuclear weapon. No, no and no.


At 3:04 AM, Blogger Asher Abrams said...

I'm not prepared to dismiss altogether the "foreign attack would light the flames of Iranian patriotism" argument, but I am highly skeptical of it. It's difficult for me to believe that a nation of 50 million people who despise the Tehran regime will suddenly have a change of heart because of a US or Israeli strike on the IRI's nuclear facilities. The argument also conflates 'patriotism' in the sense of Iranian or Persian nationalism, with loyalty to said regime; and I suspect that the two are very different things.

At 6:36 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

I agree. Israel cannot really afford to wait. The survival of the Jewish people must never again rest upon the goodwill or indifference of others. No matter what the fallout maybe - the red line is Iran must never be allowed to get The Bomb. All the rest is of secondary concern.

At 10:54 AM, Blogger Ashan said...

The safest bet then would be to blow up A-jad's plane before he reaches US shores on his upcoming (3rd!!!) visit to the UN/US. Not that others aren't trying to ditch him. He's blamed Israel, the US, the UK, the Germans, the Iranian opposition, etc., in various real or imagined attempts on his life. We can hope that something should succeed soon.

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Asher Abrams and NormanF,

Not sure you understood the argument. The guy is claiming that if there is an attack on Iran and it uses precision weapons so that it doesn't kill thousands of Iranians (which is the most likely scenario if there is an attack), it will serve as a rallying cry around the flag and the regime.

If there is an attack and thousands are killed, the government will fall.

I'm not arguing that we should delay striking because of this. I think the article is wrong. But I had not heard anyone argue before that Dinnerjacket might actually WANT an attack. That's why I ran the post.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - I do get the argument. I think the regime would welcome an Israeli and or American attack to distract attention from its problems. Iran has a lot of them and the last thing any dictatorship wants is for people to focus their wrath upon them. I have no doubt for Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, an attack on Iran would strengthen him and the regime he heads and as far as he's concerned, there's no downside since he and the people around him are not deterred by rational calculations of national interest. They are Islamic revolutionary radicals and Iranian national interests are a purely secondary concern to them. My point was that Israel cannot condition her response to what might or might not happen in Iran. Its not in Israel's power to effect peaceful political change there. It may or may not happen which is why the effects of an Israeli attack on Iran's domestic political environment cannot inhibit Israel from doing what needs to be done to eliminate Iran's nuclear threat.

At 4:26 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

If this bum was head of a defanged Iran, his level of popular support wouldn't matter.

At 7:57 AM, Blogger Asher Abrams said...

Carl, I understand the argument just fine, I'm just not sure I buy it.

There is, however, a related but distinct argument which I have made myself -
- that is, that a limited, precision attack which fails to bring down the regime will provoke and embolden the regime. I think that's a more plausible argument against strikes. But following this chain of reasoning to its conclusion requires that we consider increasing proactive efforts to topple the regime itself. As a proud neo-con, I'm just fine with that, but that's beside the point here.

The key difference between the two positions is this: the first (no strike to avoid inflaming the people's loyalty to the government) can be extended to *any* action against the regime - "don't do this and don't do that, you'll only make them stronger." It's a variation of the old "Arab street" meme. The second (don't strike to wound, strike to kill) calls for greater, not less, lethality against the Tehran regime. An individual who (hypothetically speaking) has a secret agenda to protect the regime will use the first argument, not the second one.

Clearly, this does NOT imply that anyone who uses Argument 1 is a friend of A'jad, but I do think we are entitled to be skeptical.


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