January 4, 2006
The Mullahs' Quest, The Mullahs' Fear
Pity the United Nations
and the European Union. The militant theocrats running Iran have
ignored their pleas, protests, promises of aid and finger-wagging
threats of economic sanction.
want nuclear weapons. Money, media appeals and political yammering
-- the arsenal of so-called "soft power" -- have so
far failed to curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions.
As 2006 begins, it
appears Iran's decade of atomic fan dancing with "the international
community" is approaching a dangerous finale. One hopes the
latest gesture doesn't prove to be another hollow jest. Moscow
has offered to enrich Iranian uranium in Russian facilities. It's
an interesting diplomatic gambit, one that means Iran's jig may
continue for several more months.
Iran insists that
the Russian proposal, if accepted, would be "supplementary"
and not a "final plan." One senior Iranian official
cautioned that any proposal that limited uranium enrichment "to
Russian soil only" wouldn't do at all.
At some point in
time, Iran's radical mullahs and aging Islamic revolutionaries
will have enough nuclear material to make a nuclear weapon.
Those who think the
current Iranian leaders' pursuit of nuclear weaponry is a theatrical
performance (primarily designed to solidify domestic political
support or shake down Arab and European governments for loans
and aid) should consider the rhetoric of Iran's hard-line president,
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier -- he calls
Hitler's mass murder of European Jews a "myth." On a
regular basis, Ahmadinejad and his cohorts enthusiastically tout
the capabilities of Iranian ballistic missiles. Unfortunately,
unchecked fanatics like Ahmadinejad have a tendency to move from
words to war.
Note that Israeli
cities aren't the only targets within range. In the 1990s, the
Iranians and the United Arab Emirates quarreled over islands in
the Persian Gulf, but that was lightweight sparring. Still, Iran
with a nuclear weapon threatens every Arab nation on the Arabian
An Iranian nuke also
threatens Iraq. Saddam's gone, and with good reason Iranians despised
him. Saddam attacked Iran and started the Iran-Iraq War. Iraqi
forces used chemical weapons on Iranian troops. However, the rise
of Iraqi democracy puts Iran's autocrats in a political and cultural
Iran begins the 21st
century as a profoundly divided country. One of the key divisions
is age. Most Iranians under the age of 40 have no truck with the
ruling mullahs. To describe the clerics' economy as "stagnant"
is a multi-decade understatement. Iran's young don't remember
the Shah, and Khomeini's revolution is ancient history. The Council
of Guardians' brutality is current news, however. The cultural
straightjacket of clerical puritanism chafes, and the mullahs'
hypocrisy and corruption are self-evident.
In some ways, the
thief in religious robes is even more repugnant than the usual
greased-palm bureaucrat. Democracy may not be a panacea, but Iranian
youth see it as a source of political and economic opportunity.
Now, "the Arabs" (in this case, the Iraqis, considered
by many Iranians to be cultural inferiors) are building a new
society, while Iran continues to rot.
his clique may believe a nuke will help restore their "balance
of prestige" vis a vis Baghdad.
With a fanatic like
Ahmadinejad in charge, Iran will ultimately go nuclear.
In 1981, Israeli
air attacks destroyed Saddam's Osirak nuclear reactor, and everyone
in the Middle East (including Iran) sighed with relief. The "hard
power" of U.S. and Israeli military capabilities has always
been the big stick behind EU and U.N. anti-proliferation diplomacy.
However, the rumor mill says Iran has hardened and dispersed its
nuclear sites. As it is, airstrikes and special forces attacks
are never "sure things."
The real solution
is regime change in Tehran. The EU and the United States have
talked about supporting the mullahs' political opponents, but
they have not walked that walk with sufficient financial aid,
political support, media support and -- yes, it may be necessary
-- weapons. Iran's tyrants believe they can finesse diplomatic
discourse and ride out a military strike. They fear they cannot
quell a popular, pro-democracy rebellion.
2005 Creators Syndicate