September 19, 2007

The Next Iranian Revolution is Available Online

Reason Cover Next Iranian Revolution.jpg

My feature article in the current issue of Reason magazine is now available online.

In a green valley nestled between snow-capped peaks in the Kurdish autonomous region of northern Iraq is an armed camp of revolutionaries preparing to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran. Men with automatic weapons stand watch on the roofs of the houses. Party flags snap in the wind. Radio and satellite TV stations beam illegal news, commentary, and music into homes and government offices across the border.

The compound resembles a small town more than a base, with corner stores, a bakery, and a makeshift hospital stocked with counterfeit medicine. From there the rebels can see for miles around and get a straight-shot view toward Iran, the land they call home. They call themselves Komala, which means simply “Association.”

Abdulla Mohtadi, the Komala Party’s secretary general, and Abu Baker Modarresi, a member of the party’s political bureau, hosted me in their meeting house. Sofas and chairs lined the walls, as is typical in Middle Eastern salons. Fresh fruit was provided in large bowls. A houseboy served thick Turkish coffee in shot glasses.

Both men started their revolutionary careers decades ago, when the tyrannical Shah Reza Pahlavi still ruled Iran. “We were a leftist organization,” Mohtadi said, speaking softly with an almost flawless British accent. “It was the ’60s and ’70s. It was a struggle against the Shah, against oppression, dictatorship, for social justice, and against—the United States.” He seemed slightly embarrassed by this. “Sorry,” he said.

I told him not to worry, that I hadn’t expected anything else. The U.S. government had backed the dictatorship he fought to destroy. Pro-American politics had not been an option.
Read the whole thing at Reason magazine.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 19, 2007 06:28 PM

Comments

It was a struggle against the Shah, against oppression, dictatorship, for social justice, and against—the United States.” He seemed slightly embarrassed by this. “Sorry,” he said.

Great article. It's admirable and amazing how people in that region-- who had real reason to hate us once upon a time-- can change their minds, adjust to new realities, etc. Very encouraging. What would he say, I wonder, if he could hear the Western Left citing "the Shah" and "Mossadeq" (today, decades after the fact) in their arguments against the current policies in the middle east. Would he think they were frozen in time? Nuts perhaps?

Posted by: Carlos at September 19, 2007 06:48 PM

Excellent article, Michael! I have at times wondered what happened to the Soviet backed groups of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. I don't think anyone could have predicted the current situation in 1979... and if someone did, they probably would have been at least laughed at... or more likely locked up in a mental hospital.

Posted by: Eric W, Texas at September 19, 2007 08:05 PM

Michael-

A clear view into a muddy pond. Thanks.

www.greensrealworld.blogspot.com

Posted by: James Halm at September 19, 2007 09:09 PM

Great article, Michael. And I'm delighted to see another magazine have the wit to publish (and pay!) you.

It is always a bit of a surprise to see quotes from people who can distinguish between the policies of the current government of a country and the people of that country. Not to mention being willing to say something like "We opposed your country then, because of its policies. But the policies have changed, and so we no longer oppose you." Would that some American politicians showed signs of so much flexibility in the face of change.

Posted by: wj at September 20, 2007 07:51 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 09/20/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention updated throughout the day…so check back often.

Posted by: David M at September 20, 2007 09:01 AM

Good article in Reason.

BTW, BBC has a long report that the "Peace of Anbar" is a fraud.

Posted by: Gary Denton at September 20, 2007 09:54 AM

BTW, BBC has a long report that the "Peace of Anbar" is a fraud.

Perhaps you are referring to the ABC/BBC/NHK poll, which we are currently discussing in another thread. I see nothing else at the BBC website at present.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 20, 2007 10:05 AM

Very good article Michael.

"What they don’t know—what no one can know, and what may in the end matter most—is how much damage a fanatical minority can do in Iran after it’s thrown out of power. It may not matter if most Iranians want a normal life in a quiet country. Most Iraqis are not insurgents, but the insurgency rages on."

I thought this was a particulary important aspect in determining what may happen in Iran should a radical/violent change occur. My impression is that the various Iranian groups identify as Iranians vs various sectarian loyalties, and as such would not allow Iran to dissolve as Iraq has.

Iran turned to the Dark Side almost thirty years ago. I am in favour of getting rid of the top tier of their terrorist government, most definately before they get nukes.

I may be wrong, but the "experts" of this region come down on all sides of this argument, so my vanity allows me to think that my viewpoint may be valid.

Posted by: Ron Snyder at September 20, 2007 11:36 AM

Michael,

Great article. I also enjoyed your original dispatches from the Kurdish border outposts.

In the article, you wrote the following regarding the 2005 Kurdish uprising:

Yazdanpanah says Komala shouldn’t take all the credit—his party organized demonstrations too, as did others—but he agrees that Komala’s role was substantial. It sent in its fighters, hoping to seize control of parts of Iran from the regime. The Revolutionary Guards and the police were too much for them, though, and they later had to return to Iraq.

My question is, would a second Kurdish uprising supported by American air power targeting Republican Guards units be enough to allow the Kurds to seize control of northern Iran, thus setting up the eventual overthrow of the Iranian regime?

Given that western nations are ratcheting up the pressure on Iran, and my personal doubts that Bush & Co. will leave office with Iran's nuclear program intact, I'm wondering if its possible to topple the regime with a combination of American air strikes and insurgent ground forces?

Maybe Patrick can discuss potential strategies as well.

In my mind, I just don't see Iran getting away with supporting attacks in Iraq while also developing nuclear capabilities. Maybe I'm wrong and Bush will leave the problem for the next occupant of the White House, but I'm not putting money on that option.

Any insights you or Patrick could share would be appreciated.

Thanks.

Posted by: Dogwood at September 20, 2007 06:15 PM

A very interesting and compelling article. I just wanted to point out a mistake. PJAK does not stand for "Free Youths". This mis-translation probably comes from Persians who always tend to translate Kurdish words in a way that sounds Persian. Jiyan means "Life" in Kurdish, but some Persian writers have apparently mistaken it for "Javan" (Persian word for "Young/Youth").

PJAK is an acronym for "Partiya Jiyana Azad a Kurdistanê" which translates to "Party of Free Life of Kurdistan".

Again thanks for the article.

From a regular reader of your blog.

Cheers,
Goran

Posted by: Goran at September 20, 2007 06:21 PM

Excellent reading material. It is intellectually stimulating to see inside one group's ideology. I would like to have seen more about your first round of interviews at the communist camp in order to gain a better "feel" of the opposing viewpoints.

Iran is a formidable issue and a dangerous battlefield. Thankfully, our president listens more to global strategists than to public opinion polls. Under his command we have prepared ourselves to deal with the greater threat of Iranian nuclear power. Through hard built alliances we have partners on each major front of Iran, as well as naval dominance in the gulf.

In my opinion, the wildcard at this point remains Syria. If Syria can be contained than Iran will be a much easier victory. The containment of Syria will depend on global cooperation from our military allies and the key to gaining that support will come by Iran initiating war. As commented in the article, Kurds hope for a US invasion of Iran, they just don't want a US invasion of Iran. This goal can be achieved if we act under provocation rather than under suspicion, as we did in Iraq.

I realize I sound extemely hawkish, and certainly I lean that way; however, my thinking is more as a strategist than a warrior. I know what combat is, and I do not wish it for anyone, but I see the reality. Our way of life is dependent on fossel fuels that are extracted from the middle east. If the flow of oil ends then our country will collapse in proportions that I do not want to imagine. Our president knows this danger and has worked to reduce our dependency.

For the doves, the best battle you can fight is not the one to bring our troops home, it is the fight to create fossil fuel alternatives. The battles that need your support are the ones that increase funding for research and development. Propaganda campaining should focus on the positives of alternative fuel rather than attacking the people who are working to protect you and your way of life; they include the president, vice-president, the secretary of state, the attorny general,....

You're a terrific journalist and writer, Michael.

Posted by: Kevin China at September 20, 2007 07:48 PM

Kevin: I would like to have seen more about your first round of interviews at the communist camp in order to gain a better "feel" of the opposing viewpoints.

I wrote about them in detail here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 20, 2007 07:52 PM

It's not a victory unless we steal it from the Iranian people, eh Dogwood?

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 20, 2007 08:01 PM

Don't be trollish Creamy.

The Kurds' uprising in 2005 couldn't be sustained because they were outgunned and outmanned by government forces.

I'm merely speculating if they could be successful with a little help from some friends.

In another comment thread you said this to Kevin in China: First I have a rather severe tactical disagreement with you about how to approach the problem of Iran and Syria, and it would be nice to have a robust debate on the subject.

Well, if you are interested in having a discussion on the Iranian problem, then this might be a good place to start.

How do you believe the Iranian (& Syrian) problem can or should be dealt with?

Do you advocate regime change?

Or do you believe we can just let bygones be bygones and live with Iran the way it is?

Or do we stick with economic sanctions?

If you do support regime change, do we simply arm and train insurgents and hope their next encounter with government forces goes better than the last one?

All of the above?

None of the above?

Some of the above?

Snark is easy Creamy, but I come here for actual thought and discussion, plus Edgar's sarcasm, of course.

Posted by: Dogwood at September 20, 2007 08:23 PM

Dogwood,

I meant that as snark with substance. Let the Iranian people earn, and own, their democratic revolution.

"It's the kiss of death," said Turki al-Rasheed, a Saudi reformer who watched last Sunday's elections closely. "The minute you are counted on or backed by the Americans, kiss it goodbye, you will never win."

The mullahs are contained. We have the upper hand in a cold war with their sclerotic kleptocracy. The only rationale for forcing things prematurely is the nuclear issue. I don't like the prospect of them getting the bomb, but I think they are deterrable and I like the prospect of unleashing the dogs of war a lot less.

A regime that we jam in place and prop up will be far more shaky than one that grows upwards from grass roots. The fastest route to a stable and friendly Iran is to let nature take its course.

As for Syria, the Hariri tribunal is a dagger in their abdomen. We should make sure that they stay impaled upon it.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 20, 2007 09:57 PM

Kevin China,

If the flow of oil ends then our country will collapse in proportions that I do not want to imagine.

Oil being fungible, how can Iran hurt us without mortally wounding its own economy?

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 20, 2007 10:04 PM

Kevin China: This goal can be achieved if we act under provocation rather than under suspicion, as we did in Iraq.

If the mullahs are dumb or careless enough to hand us a clear casus belli, that changes the narrative.

Under any other circumstances, we don't want to give them an enemy to rally against. Iran needs us like Syria needs Israel. By staying aloof we deny them the external threat they crave.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 20, 2007 10:36 PM

Creamy: "...how can Iran hurt us without mortally wounding its own economy?"

reply: In a twisted, totalitarian theocracy the power does not come through economics but through brutalilty. Economic peril is something they have obviously already endured and they are not moved by it (i.e. sanctions don't work).

Creamy: "If the mullahs are dumb or careless enough to hand us a clear casus belli, that changes the narrative."

reply: I only hope so. If Iran continues on the course of delivering arms to Al Qaeda, we might gain enough provocation to act unilaterally.

Creamy: "Iran needs us like Syria needs Israel."

reply: Exactly! The corallary, in part, is proximity. That is precisely why we need to stay in Iraq and establish permenent bases there, not as an occupying force but as forward deployed forces, just as we have in other nations around the free world.

Michael, thanks for the link.

Posted by: Kevin China at September 21, 2007 02:24 AM

Kevin,

Iran isn't a "totalitarian theocracy." It's a simple theocracy.

People in Iran have relative freedom to do what they want, as long as they're not politically active.

And power does stem from economics in Iran, just in the opposite way you're thinking. People living in the slums of Tehran supported Ahmadinejad because they thought he'd represent their interests.

The regime does rely on some popular support, just as Saddam had plenty of support when he was in power in Iraq. Obviously most Iranian intellectuals despise Ahmadinejad, but he has the backing of the many, many religiously conservative, uneducated people all over the country.

The Iranian regime might be good at playing Twister, but ultimately, if the Iranian people spin the dial the right way the mullahs will collapse. It's just a matter of getting the people to play.

(btw I can teach the Iranians how to "rig" the dial if need be)

Posted by: Edgar at September 21, 2007 06:25 AM

The Iranian regime might be good at playing Twister, but ultimately, if the Iranian people spin the dial the right way the mullahs will collapse. It's just a matter of getting the people to play.

I would also argue that it's imperative that the Iranian people spin the dial, and that it's not spun for them.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 21, 2007 07:34 AM

I think they are deterrable and I like the prospect of unleashing the dogs of war a lot less.

I don't share your optimism. Russia and China are opposed to increasing sanctions, and if a recent Fox News report is accurate, the Germans are increasingly reluctant to tighten the economic sanctions garrote.

In short, we have a potential replay of the Iraqi sanctions regime where Russia and China play spoilers while the west fails to keep a united front, thus undermining the effectiveness of sanctions.

A regime that we jam in place and prop up will be far more shaky than one that grows upwards from grass roots. The fastest route to a stable and friendly Iran is to let nature take its course.

I'm not advocating a full-scale invasion to put a new government in place, I'm talking about assisting Iranian insurgents who can do the task quite well if they only receive a bit of outside help, such as eliminating the heavily armed Republican Guard units.

Based upon my admittedly limited knowledge of Iran, it appears the main army is comprised of conscripts, a great many of whom are hostile to the regime, or feared to be, and thus are confined to military bases so they don't cause trouble.

If the Republican Guards are eliminated, would and could a combination of insurgents and military personnel brush aside the existing regime?

If the mullahs are dumb or careless enough to hand us a clear casus belli, that changes the narrative.

Iran has been the leading state sponsor of Islamic terrorism around the world since 1979, so the casus belli already exists. Their activities in Iraq and their nuclear projects just add to a lengthy list of reasons justifying their removal from power.

Under any other circumstances, we don't want to give them an enemy to rally against.

They have been rallying against us since 1979. The oppressed will likely appreciate the support, while the oppressors won't.

I think your concern would have merit if a ground invasion were being contemplated, but I think air strikes that weaken the regime's ability to hold on to power would be seen in a different light. Or not. This type of navel gazing can't be proven right one way or the other until after the fact.

From where I sit, the Iranians are not going to stop their nuclear program, thus a military strike will be necessary to remove the potential threat.

Therefore, if we are going to strike anyway, why not combine the air strikes with aggressive support of already existing insurgents to effect regime change?

Which brings me back to my original question, are the insurgents capable of overthrowing the regime if the Republican Guards are removed from the picture?

Posted by: Dogwood at September 21, 2007 07:41 AM

DPU: I would also argue that it's imperative that the Iranian people spin the dial, and that it's not spun for them.

Yeah, sure. But what if they're too nervous about spinning, even when it's their turn.

The mullahs could snatch it away from them and rig it themselves when they're not looking (I do this a lot myself).

I guess anyone would be worried about getting a good spin and having everyone collapse too fast, smashing everything in their apartment.

But at least it would be fun for others to watch. At least from 10,000 km away through a TV screen.

Posted by: Edgar at September 21, 2007 07:59 AM

Dogwood,

In short, we have a potential replay of the Iraqi sanctions regime where Russia and China play spoilers while the west fails to keep a united front, thus undermining the effectiveness of sanctions.

I was much more worried about Saddam Hussein getting nukes than I am about Iran. Hussein was a megalomaniac and an unpredictable risk taker with a long history of waging aggressive wars for territorial expansion. I figured he'd end up back in Kuwait, but shielded by a nuclear umbrella. I also thought that if defeated, Hussein was entirely capable of pushing the button and going down in a nuclear Götterdämmerung.

The mullahs of Iran are corrupt fat cats. They are a different kind of foe. They are deterrable.

I'm talking about assisting Iranian insurgents

The kiss of death.

Iran has been the leading state sponsor of Islamic terrorism around the world since 1979, so the casus belli already exists.

Not good enough. I'm talking something like Lockerbie. And I think it's quite unlikely that the mullahs will oblige.

Therefore, if we are going to strike anyway,

Holy crap, I hope you are wrong about that. And I believe that you are. I think that there are enough cool heads in the administration to fight off paranoiacs like Addington. Not to mention that it would be political suicide for the Republican party.

why not combine the air strikes with aggressive support of already existing insurgents to effect regime change?

Because the Iranian people need to do this for themselves.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 21, 2007 09:01 AM

Holy crap, I hope you are wrong about that.

I hope I am too, but if the sanctions effort fails because of Russia, China and Germany, then what choice will there be?

I don't think the Russians are going to stop building the reactor just because we say pretty please.

Posted by: Dogwood at September 21, 2007 09:09 AM

I hope I am too, but if the sanctions effort fails because of Russia, China and Germany, then what choice will there be?

We live with a nuclear Iran.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 21, 2007 09:17 AM

We live with a nuclear Iran.

Sorry, I just find that completely unacceptable.

Posted by: Dogwood at September 21, 2007 09:26 AM

Very interesting read, as always Michael.

I wish there was some way you could actually pay a visit to Iran and write about it. Now THAT would make for fascinating stuff!!

Just like you have given me some hope about Lebanon and the Lebanese, this article does the same for Iran and Iranians.

Posted by: Jonorose at September 21, 2007 09:55 AM

Dogwood,

Sorry, I just find that completely unacceptable.

We're even then. I think doing whatever it takes to stop Iran from going nuclear no matter how dire the cost is completely unacceptable.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 21, 2007 12:16 PM

Yeah, sure. But what if they're too nervous about spinning, even when it's their turn.

If they are not willing to risk a spin, then what would the point be of spinning for them? or, to move off the quickly-fatiguing Twister analogy, why take on the risks and costs of liberation if they aren't willing to do the same?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 21, 2007 12:25 PM

From where I sit, the Iranians are not going to stop their nuclear program, thus a military strike will be necessary to remove the potential threat.

I think that this is an unsolvable situation. The US administration has only two extreme options.

The first is allow Iran to obtain nukes. That is a one-way road, because the threat of military force becomes less of a deterrent once they have nukes. I think this is considered unacceptable by the administration and many other parties.

The other option is actual use of military force, up to and including use of tactical nuclear weapons (which I think a realistic possibility here, BTW). The outcome of that is chaos (more chaos, that is) in the ME and a global economic crisis (even more of a crisis, that is). This too is unacceptable.

I don't think they want either option, which is why so many sabers are being rattled so loudly.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 21, 2007 12:32 PM

DPU: The US administration has only two extreme options.

Wrong. We actually have three.

We can all sing Kumbaya. Not likely to work, but it's worth a try, at least.

Posted by: Edgar at September 21, 2007 12:35 PM

Excellent article Micheal

Thank you for bringing this information to us.

Posted by: Azygos at September 21, 2007 12:45 PM

We can all sing Kumbaya.

The Kumbaya option is a mellow option, not an extreme option.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 21, 2007 12:55 PM

We can all sing Kumbaya.

Maybe sing Kumbaya while playing Twister?

Posted by: Dogwood at September 21, 2007 01:19 PM

Of course, we shouldn't forget about the Israelis. If the U.S. fails to stop Iran, then the Israelis will.

Also, if Iran goes nuclear, what are the odds that the Saudis will do the same?

The options are bad, worse, or worst.

Posted by: Dogwood at September 21, 2007 01:28 PM

Of course, we shouldn't forget about the Israelis. If the U.S. fails to stop Iran, then the Israelis will.

I think that, well, hope that Israel is smarter than that. An Israel attack on Iran would likely cause a greater destabilization of Pakistan, and increase the likelihood of fundamentalists taking power there, along with the nuclear codes. In other words, exchange the risk of a nuclear threat in five to ten years for one in a few months.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 21, 2007 01:34 PM

A nuclear arms race in the region might very well be the worst case scenario of all. India and Pakistan have almost gone to nuclear war with each several times. Imagine five or six similarly tense in the Middle East between Iran, Syria, Israel, Saudi, etc. Bad times.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 21, 2007 01:36 PM

Whatever you guys choose to do, don't let Edgar spin for himself, or even get near the thing. Unless you have some money on him.

Posted by: allan at September 21, 2007 01:38 PM

Dogwood: Also, if Iran goes nuclear, what are the odds that the Saudis will do the same?

I'd say about 1 in 63,739 (as a rough estimate).

Posted by: Edgar at September 21, 2007 01:39 PM

Care to share the algorithm used to generate those odds, or is the formula a closely guarded secret!?

Posted by: Dogwood at September 21, 2007 01:41 PM

DPU: Concerning the Pakistani nukes: Do you think the U.S. knows the location(s) of their warheads? I would think that with the shakey situation there, that info would be a high priority.

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at September 21, 2007 01:45 PM

MJT: A nuclear arms race in the region might very well be the worst case scenario of all. India and Pakistan have almost gone to nuclear war with each several times.

India and Pakistan arguably have much better reasons to go to war than do most countries in the mideast, for whom transnational animosity stems mostly from different ideologies rather than territorial disputes.

Unless vicious and unpredictable dictators like Saddam are in power, it's doubtful that the Arab countries would gear up for war, especially if it could go nuclear. The Assads and their ilk are content just to stay in power.

The Arab countries are weak and could be decimated in a war. India, on the other hand, could suffer millions of casualties and still survive.

Posted by: Edgar at September 21, 2007 01:46 PM

Dogwood: Care to share the algorithm used to generate those odds, or is the formula a closely guarded secret!?

Sorry, forgot to add an important detail.

The margin of error is +/- 100,000

Again, it's merely a rough estimate, not something scientific.

Posted by: Edgar at September 21, 2007 01:48 PM

Well, guess I'll forget about trying to use it on my next trip to Vegas.

Posted by: Dogwood at September 21, 2007 01:51 PM

DPU: Concerning the Pakistani nukes: Do you think the U.S. knows the location(s) of their warheads?

I have no idea, but I think that Pakistan wouldn't be painting giant arrows on the ground to indicate their launch sites.

Well, not to the real ones.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 21, 2007 01:57 PM

Unless vicious and unpredictable dictators like Saddam are in power, it's doubtful that the Arab countries would gear up for war, especially if it could go nuclear. The Assads and their ilk are content just to stay in power.

Which, given recent object lessons, is a great reason for owning nukes.

I believe that six Arab nations are currently pursuing nuclear programs, Egypt and Saudi Arabia included.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 21, 2007 01:59 PM

DPU: I think that Pakistan wouldn't be painting giant arrows on the ground to indicate their launch sites.

How they hell do they remember where they put them, then?

Posted by: Edgar at September 21, 2007 02:00 PM

DPU,

I don't doubt that these countries want nukes. But what they don't want is war with each other, regardless of how many bombs they each have.

India's government could survive a war--even a limited nuclear one perhaps--with Pakistan. Assad's government could not survive a full-scale war with Israel. And no living thing in Syria would survive even a limited Israel nuclear strike in the long-term.

Posted by: Edgar at September 21, 2007 02:06 PM

I don't doubt that these countries want nukes. But what they don't want is war with each other, regardless of how many bombs they each have.

I agree. But that's another good reason to own nukes - no one looks forward to a war with you.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 21, 2007 02:12 PM

Scenario: Iran gets nukes. Then Syria gets nukes. And then the Saudis get nukes. Followed by Egypt getting nukes. And the Pakastanis have nukes.

Does it then become more likely that a nuke finds its way into the hands of terrorists who then detonate it in Israel, Europe or the U.S by sailing it into a big city port?

And since everyone in the region has nukes, everyone has plausible deniability when it is time for nuclear retaliation. "It wasn't our nuke" they all say.

I don't know if this is a far fetched scenario or not. Generally, nations are not suicidal, but when it comes to Islamists, I take nothing for granted, so I believe letting them produce the bomb is a really, really bad idea.

Posted by: Dogwood at September 21, 2007 02:33 PM

Dogwood: I believe letting them produce the bomb is a really, really bad idea.

Yup. And a worse idea than bombing Iran now.

Posted by: Edgar at September 21, 2007 02:36 PM

And a worse idea than bombing Iran now.

With what? Short of wiping Iran off the map, what makes you think we can meaningfully delay their pursuit of nukes with our own bombs? Has Curveball told you where all the assets are?

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at September 21, 2007 03:17 PM

Creamy: What makes you think we can meaningfully delay their pursuit of nukes with our own bombs? Has Curveball told you where all the assets are?

Glad you asked. I'm willing to drive to NYC right now and put Ahmadinejad in a crucifix hold until he coughs up that information.

I'm accepting PayPal donations.

(Man, is this cutting Mike's grass or what? Call me John Deere from now on).

Posted by: Edgar at September 21, 2007 03:26 PM

I'm in for $50, but I'll need photographic evidence before I tip the jar. Mug shots don't count.

Posted by: Dogwood at September 21, 2007 03:29 PM

I'll make a video of it and send a copy to al-Jazeera.

Posted by: Edgar at September 21, 2007 03:32 PM

Edgar: Count me in for $50

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at September 21, 2007 04:16 PM

Glad you asked. I'm willing to drive to NYC right now and put Ahmadinejad in a crucifix hold until he coughs up that information.

As I recall, he doesn't oversee things like their weapons programs, so I doubt he knows anything of value. Not that I think that will deter you from putting him in a headlock anyway.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 21, 2007 05:11 PM

Interestingly, there's only one degree of separation between us.

From what I hear, he has poor hygiene.

Posted by: Edgar at September 21, 2007 05:20 PM

Day by Day (9/21/07):

Scene: White House

"You State Dept. guys think I should let Ahmadinejad on ground zero?!?"

"Mr. President..."

"Iran is a full member of the U.N. - We have to think in history's terms."

"Take him hostage?"

"Symbolically. Can you imagine NYC traffic on this?"

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at September 21, 2007 05:51 PM

Anyone here from Vancouver? I know DPU is.

Posted by: Edgar at September 21, 2007 06:17 PM

Edgar: "Iran isn't a 'totalitarian theocracy.' It's a simple theocracy."

reply: Wrong. But, perhaps we are using the term "totalitarian" differently? An example of a simple theocracy would be Vatican City , not Iran. A nation that suppresses, oppresses and persecutes religious diversity is a totalitarian theocracy.

Edgar: "People living in the slums of Tehran supported Ahmadinejad because they thought he'd represent their interests....he has the backing of the many, many religiously conservative, uneducated people all over the country."

reply: Correct, and you countered your own argument. It is power through religion, not through economics (or reverse economics).

Edgar: "The Iranian regime might be good at playing Twister..."

reply: I see that I must be careful with my wording. (smile)

Posted by: Kevin China at September 21, 2007 07:17 PM

BAGHDAD - The U.S. military on Saturday confirmed the arrests of 25 people linked to the assassination of the leader of the U.S.-backed revolt by Sunni Arab tribesmen in the western Anbar province against al-Qaida in Iraq.

The suspects, who include the head of the security detail that was supposed to protect Sheik Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, killed in a bombing Sept. 13, were detained by Iraqi police, Lt. Col. Jubeir Rashid said, an Iraqi police officer in Anbar.

Rashid said Friday that Abu Risha’s security chief, Capt. Karim al- Barghothi, confessed al-Qaida in Iraq had offered him $1.5 million for the slaying but that he was arrested before he could collect the money.

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at September 22, 2007 10:16 AM

Kevin China: "A nation that suppresses, oppresses and persecutes religious diversity is a totalitarian theocracy."

That may be true enough, but are your preconceptions about Iran accurate? This country has the largest Middle Esatern Jewish population of any country apart from Israel. As Michael Caine used to say...."Not a lot of people know that."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5367892.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_5360000/newsid_5369400/5369420.stm?bw=nb&mp=wm&news=1

Now, when I have pointed this out in the past, some posters here have descrived these Iranian Jews as either race traitors for not wanting to leave and settle in Israel, or even as traitors to humanity itself.

But that is more of a reflection on low quality intellects of these posters, rather than on Iran's Jewish community, methinks.

Posted by: Microraptor at September 22, 2007 11:03 AM

Microraptor,

Most people don't like leaving a place they've lived for thousands of years.

Iran doesn't specifically persecute its Jews, but it oppresses them as much as it does everyone else.

But if you want to look for religious oppression, you don't need to look far.

Sure, you'll see Jews squatting in a circle in any park in Iran, spinning dreidles for money all day long. You'll see them playing Twister in the Imam Khomeini Square. And Everyone buys the hamentachen they bake on Purim and cheers their massive parade through Tehran.

Ok, so the Jews might be living the good life. But why don't you tell us how well the Bahais are treated in Iran?

No Twister for them, is there?

Posted by: Edgar at September 22, 2007 11:27 AM

Microraptor: "This country has the largest Middle Esatern Jewish population of any country apart from Israel"

I could be wrong of cause but something tells me that even ten Jews in Lebanon would probably have made Lebanon "second largest" aside from Israel.

Numbers are meaningless. Check whether community is growing or shrinking. Check others as well. Not just Jews. How about Bahais?

Posted by: leo at September 22, 2007 11:35 AM

Most people don't like leaving a place they've lived for thousands of years.

I'd love to meet someone, anyone, who had lived somewhere for thousands of years. First question would be about their medical plan and diet.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 22, 2007 02:39 PM

"I'd love to meet someone, anyone, who had lived somewhere for thousands of years. First question would be about their medical plan and diet."

It is easy. Drink and smoke heavily.

Posted by: leo at September 22, 2007 02:44 PM

Interesting:

http://gnblog.com/?p=263

Posted by: leo at September 22, 2007 02:46 PM

Microraptor, thank you for the statistical inference and the link; however, in my region of China the BBC is blocked by the nationalist internet firewall. This is also true of USA Today, Michael Yon and Windows Live search.

I tried to validate your claim through other online resources but was unsuccessful. The Iranian Statistics Center does not offer such data. Here are two hard data sites that you can compare with the BBC report (which I cannot). I think your claim is questionable if you are only relying on a syndicate article as your proof.

http://www.populstat.info/Asia/irang.htm
(Jewish population or religion are not listed at all.)

http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/world-jewish-population.htm
(This is a must read with regard to your claim. Even before the 1948 founding of Israel the Jewish population of Iran was 2nd to Iraq. The largest diaspora now, of course, is the USA, even greater than Israel, itself. The cumulative diaspora of the Middle East is less than 5% and this number also incorporates South America, Africa, Australia and the rest of Asia. As a demographic, it is estimated that in 2001 there were 11,500 Jews in the Islamic Republic of Iran with a declining population.)

I hope that I haven't given one of the low intellect rebuttals. I certainly appreciate being educated and challanged to back my assertions. Thanks.

Posted by: Kevin China at September 22, 2007 06:50 PM

The word "totalitarian" is thrown around far too often. Only North Korea meets every definition of the word.

There's just too much noticeable opposition in Iranian society to claim it's a totalitarian state.

A better description would be Iran is an authoritarian state.

Posted by: Al at September 22, 2007 09:16 PM

totalitarian: "Of, relating to, being, or imposing a form of government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life, the individual is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed"...Farlex

"Totalitarian theocracy" is an alternative expression for "Islamofascist". Both of these expressions are correctly applied to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Posted by: Kevin China at September 23, 2007 08:14 AM

Both of these expressions are correctly applied to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

You would not have gasoline riots under a totalitarian regime, and even if you did, you would never hear of them. And "Islamofacist" is a silly term.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 23, 2007 09:01 AM

DPU: "Islamofacist" is a silly term.

Yeah, I mean who the hell would spell `fascist' like that?

Posted by: Edgar at September 23, 2007 09:40 AM

"totalitarian: "Of, relating to, being, or imposing a form of government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life, the individual is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed"...Farlex

"Totalitarian theocracy" is an alternative expression for "Islamofascist". Both of these expressions are correctly applied to the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Having been to Iran, I can tell you that all aspects of public and private life are not subordinate to the state.

Posted by: Al at September 23, 2007 11:01 AM

DPU: "Islamofacist" is a silly term.

You mean just like Islamophobia?

Posted by: Johndakota at September 23, 2007 12:06 PM

Some Arab Sunnis, maybe "Iraqi police, Lt. Col. Jubeir Rashid", will be starting to blame the murders and deaths on Iranian (Persian) Shia. Not the US, not the Sunnis who have been helping Sunni AQ, not even AQ -- "Iranian Shia are killing our people. When will we defend ourselves?"

(Or do the Sunnis say Shiites?)

Iraqis will unify, first against Al Qaeda internally, with problems and bribed traitors, then against Iran externally.

The Iraqi Army will be the ground troops needed to stop Iran from getting nukes.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 23, 2007 02:11 PM

Al: "Having been to Iran, I can tell you that all aspects of public and private life are not subordinate to the state."

reply: The form of government in the Islamic Republic of Iran is totalitarian theocracy. I haven't been to Iran but I have been to the library. Not all democracies are equal but they are still democracies. If I extrapolate from your form of logic then I should deduce that China isn't communist either and the USA isn't a democratic republic.

Posted by: Kevin China at September 23, 2007 05:47 PM

kevin, your thinking is far too binary in this situation.

Totalitarianism falls at the extreme end of state control. Authoritarianism falls just short of this. That's why it's a far better descriptor of Iran than totalitarianism.

Do you think North Korea and China can both be described as totalitarian? You might answer yes, but there's a substantial difference between the two countries, which is lost when using the word totalitarian.

As a side note, stories like this, http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=061211130257.ypfkzp5b&show_article=1
simply won't happen in totalitarian states.

Posted by: Al at September 23, 2007 08:52 PM

Al, how about if we leave the semantics. You and I, clearly, have studied from different text books, even President Bush calls Iran totalitarian. I am talking about a form of government not a 'descriptor' of how well it is implemented.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A62009-2004Jul19.html

Posted by: Kevin China at September 24, 2007 02:48 AM

I am talking about a form of government not a 'descriptor' of how well it is implemented.

By the same definition, I am a multi-billionaire. As long as you ignore how well implemented my definition is.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at September 25, 2007 01:35 PM

I'm not convinced that having various political factions in Iran would make it more stable than Iraq after a regime change, but the article is interesting.

In Iraq, Saddam had a pretty good post war plan. He slathered the country with enormous weapons caches, neighborhood by neighborhood and then destroyed or removed critical infrastructure during the looting. The stolen water pumps in Basra being the best example. I imagine the plan was to create desperate people who would revert to prehistoric savagery, with modern weapons -- and to some extent it worked. Iran won’t have this problem, but it will have the problem of a mix of the groups you described, competing for the top. With out a charismatic leader or movment, violence will supplant aspiration and these groups become a ready made civil war.

If America invades Iraq, it will still be up against both an instinctive racial mistrust of Europeans, and Islam’s prohibitions and disparagements of "book-centered" religions. In the midst of this pastiche, individual Iranians will have to decide whether or not to trust us.

If we do invade, the American and European left will send their own invasion of propagandists who will tell the people this is an imperialist invasion. They did this in Iraq, and it was fairly effective. While some Americans went to help women maintain their role in society, the leftist activists met with Saddam’s old crew. Medea Benjamin spent a substantial period with a leading official in Saddam’s propaganda ministry. Our local “peace” group had it’s own affiliations with leftist emissaries would spread the word of imperialist invasion among average Iraqis. These were a definite minority but, in a former totalitarian regime you get used to expecting the truth from scarce minorities and mistrusting what is said by the official sources of information. If we tried to free Iran, the peace groups will be inciting mistrust and violence there as well.

On the other hand, certain events surpass propaganda and what’s happening next door in Iraq may become one of these. If the Iraqis manage to find their way to a government of the people, within the window we’ve given them, this will sink in, regardless of the words that surround them. The early history of mistrust may only serve to underscore the wrong-headedness of this reaction. More importantly, the heart of Shia Islam is in Najaf. President Akh-whatever-jad can say what he wants and confiscate all the satellite dishes he can and the hundreds of thousands visiting Najaf will still get the point, without speaking a word.

After watching the middle east for the last few years, I’ve been swayed by the terrorist’s argument that Islam does not support democracy. While I don’t yet believe it’s impossible I can see how it might be harder for Islamic people to find there way to democracy. Islam is based on the concept of submission to a greater cause, where the Judeo-Christian progression is based on a model of choice. The lack of an emphasis on forgiveness in Islam or suppressing human jealousy may be a factor as well. In Germany, 900,000 Germans were driven out of there homes in what is now Poland after World War II. These people have moved on and built lives, despite losing everything, while the “Palestinians” who were displaced after their conflicts with Jewish Palestinians are still mired down in a combative refugee status. Religion is, of course, their choice and that factor is out of our hands. Somewhere, however, there is a need for a hadith, or prophet or charismatic leader who can portray an ethic of forgiveness, acceptance and love for the greater good, which is compelling enough to make all selfish aspirations for power look dirty by comparison. The Komal men interviewed in the story seemed to understand the power and importance of guiding principles and that these things are what prevails. This is hopeful.

And, as an American, one cannot help but hope for the best. It remains exciting to watch as we see a whole new area of the world get a chance at human freedom. We continue to watch with anticipation. As we read about thoughtful people like the ones interviewed in this story, in Iraq and elsewhere, one can not deny the sense of hope.

Posted by: Turner at September 29, 2007 05:41 AM
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