The View From 1776

Iranian Hard-Rock Realities

We may be between a rock and a hard place in confronting Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Reader Robert Stapler emailed the following cogent analysis of our limited options for dealing with Iran.  He is responding to an earlier posting titled Iranian Specifics.


I fully agree with the assessment that Iran?s current regime is anti-Israel.? I also agree the regime is oppressive of its own people, is unpopular, and that Iranians desire a relaxation of religious and economic controls.? I don?t see, however, that anti-Iranian Kurds are friends of the Iranian people or that radical Iranian students are pro-democracy in the western sense.? Nor do I see that the average Iranian is unreservedly enamored of America or the adoption of American cultural values in place of Persian ones.? From what I have so far read, most Iranian ?progressives? follow the socialist model of democracy.? A regime change that puts a pro??democracy? Iranian faction in charge might, therefore, simply trade a theocratic oppression for a socialist one not much different from the Iraqi/Syrian Baathist model of democratic progress.? This would have very little impact on Iran?s position regarding Israel beyond alienating one terrorist network in favor of red brigades; and would change the defamatory rhetoric only from a religious to a socialist based screed.?? I?m not saying there aren?t plenty of Iranians who want to be freed from the current oppression.? There are.? But I also have a pretty good idea they know, just as we do, that the power struggle is in the hands of two groups of opposed extremists.

Supposing Kurds were successful toppling the Iranian theocracy, what would they install in its place?? They?d have little reason to love either Persian intellectuals or moderate Muslims.? More likely they would slaughter both in reprisal for centuries of Muslim oppression of Kurds.? Were the progressives to gain power and purge the clericals, they?d probably have to act quickly to disarm the Kurds to prevent a Balkan style fragmenting of the northern territories and consequent slaughter of Persians living nearby.? Therefore, the present alliance between anti-clerical progressives and Kurdish nationalists is a shaky one predicated on mutual hatred of the clericals, but also in mutual suspicion and rivalry.

As for the Bush Administration?s non-violent support of ?pro-Western? factions, this is hardly likely to do much that would prevent an Iranian acquisition of nuclear and other WMD?s.? It does provide our government with intelligence resources it uses to track Iran?s progress in acquiring WMD?s and funneling of terrorists into Iraq.? But, it is fantasy thinking it can do more than monitor what?s going on.? Bush cannot use such information publicly without revealing sources; which would likely result in the slaughter of those sources.? It has taken many years to reestablish human intelligence in this region, making any assets we have too valuable to risk lightly.? Politically, it may keep the current regime focused on internal security to the extent it is less focused on supporting terrorists in Iraq, but it is hardly likely to precipitate a democratic revolution that does not involve American troops and a widening of the conflict.?

After the difficulties convincing the American public that Iraq really was a threat, post-2004, Bush would have a very hard-sell convincing Congress an invasion of Iran is necessary or, even, in our interests.?? Supposing Bush could convince Congress and get the authorization, would he want to or would it serve our interests in fighting terrorism??? It would make it easier to suppress insurgency in Iraq, but only by widening the area of operation.? Terrorists will move back to some new line we can?t cross and go on as before.? Iran would no longer be a threat of WMD?s, but everything else would be as before.? On the other hand, an additional invasion might be seen as fueling pan-Islamic solidarity that would result in less cooperation from ?friendly? Muslim countries fearing America has greater ambitions than suppressing WMD?s or terrorism.? I do not say these are the realities, only the perceptions.? We saw the same thing in Vietnam when the NVA used Laos and Cambodia as a backdoor and our forces were denied pursuit. ?Bush is likely to tread lightly, and will be considering options other than war.? It is unlikely information from these sources will be used to petition Congress for authorization to invade Iran, unless or until the danger of significant WMD?s becomes both self-evident and intolerable.? Anything less than an invasion is unlikely to cause more than a nuisance to the regime now in power.

The article?s final paragraph promises ?The Republican Party?s position of non-violent financial and moral support for the pro-American people of Iran is the best option available to stop these Iranian policies from further damaging the world. ... Taking the non-violent approach advocated by the Republican Party can be effective in stopping the nuclear threat ? Choosing non-violent action will help preserve stability in the region and lead to the peaceful elimination of an oppressive and unjust regime.?? This is patently absurd and seems to have the object of encouraging continued financial backing of the anti-clerical factions.? Support that is merely financial and moral will not topple a regime in power, and the money recipients (as political outsiders) will have little direct impact on stopping WMD development.? If that is the objective, it is money wasted and does not warrant the complimentary interpretation the author is lending it.? It is more likely this is promotion for our continued support while concealing more limited but realistic objectives; and for our consumption as pro-Bush, pro-war policy conservatives.? Otherwise, it sounds an awful lot like the anti-war rant of the left for giving sanctions more time to work.

Visit MoveOff Network Members