“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Why is Iran so anxious to provoke an Israeli attack?

Something is going on with the US, Israel and The United States. Something.

The current Spectator published a noteworthy essay on the dilemma faced by Israel from a nuclear armed Iran. It ends with the question that concerns me. Why is Iran so obviously provoking Israel? Does Iran already possess Russian nuclear weapons? The article can be read in entirety here at The Spectator. It ends with this:

"A successful military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, by America or Israel, will be cause for private celebrations throughout the Middle East, though public expressions of diplomatic outrage will predictably be as ferocious as those that followed Israel’s pre-emptive strike which destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981.

Iran has been emboldened by its recent successes in Iraq and Lebanon. Without firing a single shot or suffering a single casualty, Iran has emerged as the most influential player in Iraq, America not excepted. ‘The Iranians can look forward to many years when they will be able to regard Iraq as their backyard,’ a senior Iraqi political source told me last week. And, through its Syrian ally and Hezbollah proxy, Iran has also become the dominant force in Lebanon.

Beyond Iraq and Lebanon, Iran is seeking to use its economic muscle to build influence in the Muslim world. But it remains hampered by two intrinsic disabilities: first, it is a Shiite state in a largely Sunni environment; second, it is a non-Arab state in a largely Arab world. To overcome these handicaps, Iran has to prove its credentials, and it can achieve this not only by acquiring the ultimate weapon, but also by being first among equals in its hostility to the Jewish state, the totemic issue of the entire Islamic world.

Two niggling questions remain unanswered: why are the Iranians so brazenly flaunting their nuclear programme? And why are they so obviously goading the Israelis by issuing a flurry of existential threats? They seem to be deliberately provoking an Israeli attack. But that could be precisely what they want to achieve.

In addition to Iran’s indigenous nuclear programme, there have been reports that it has bought several nuclear bombs ‘off the shelf’ from rogue scientists in the former Soviet Union. So, for all the fuss about its nuclear programme, Iran might already have several tactical nuclear weapons stuffed in its armoury.

If Israel is drawn into a pre-emptive strike, the Iranians might reckon that the international community will judge an Iranian nuclear response to be proportionate, even justifiable. With their political compass fixed at the dangerous intersection of ideological fervour and religious zealotry, the mullahs of Tehran could be calculating that such an outcome will succeed in both burnishing their Islamic credentials and realising their cosmic dream of dominance."


  1. 2164th cited, "In addition to Iran’s indigenous nuclear programme, there have been reports that it has bought several nuclear bombs ‘off the shelf’ from rogue scientists in the former Soviet Union. So, for all the fuss about its nuclear programme, Iran might already have several tactical nuclear weapons stuffed in its armoury."

    If this is true, then why hasn't Iran immediately nuked Tel Aviv? The deterrent power of MAD. Why should we pursue containment instead of a preemptive strike? Because MAD works.

  2. The American public is tired of the war and wants it to go away. Winning doesn’t matter – just make it go away.

    The Democrats will make it go away and once they do, there will be no going back. If the U. S. leaves Iraq before the Iraqi government can control the country, it is only a matter of time before another despot – likely a despot friendly to Iran – takes over.

    My prediction is that the U. S. will withdraw from Iraq and Iran will develop a nuclear weapon, if they haven’t done so already. I also predict that at some point in the next 10 to 20 years, if not sooner, Iran will detonate a nuclear device – likely in Israel – and there won’t be anything the U. S. can or will do to stop it.

    a.k.a. Buddy?

  3. Mahmoud looks like he could do with a nap. Why is he so tired? What's he working on so hard that he can't get any sleep at night? What's he planning?

  4. And why are they so obviously goading the Israelis by issuing a flurry of existential threats?

    According to Shi'ite Muslim teaching, Abul-Qassem Mohammad, the 12th leader whom Shi'ites consider descended from the Prophet Mohammed, disappeared in 941 but will return at the end of time to lead an era of Islamic justice.

    "Our revolution's main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam, the Mahdi," Ahmadinejad said in the speech to Friday Prayers leaders from across the country.

    Ahmadinejad refers to the return of the 12th Imam, also known as the Mahdi, in almost all his major speeches since he took office in August.

    A September address to the U.N. General Assembly contained long passages on the Mahdi which confused Western diplomats and irked those from Sunni Muslim countries who believe in a different line of succession from Mohammed.

    Founded in 1953 and used by the Shah of Iran to try to eradicate followers of the Bahai faith, the Hojjatieh Society is governed by the conviction that the 12th Imam's return will be...hastened by the creation of chaos on earth.

    "It seems that they (Hojjatieh members) have recently become more active and are spread through the government," said a political analyst who declined to be named.

    "The president has repeatedly said his government will pave the way for the Imam's return."

    "Because MAD works"
    See above. Death does not seem to deter martyrs. Perhaps Ahmadinejad does not truly have the strength of his convictions, perhaps he does.

    Then why hasn't Iran immediately nuked Tel Aviv?

    Perhaps our time frame is not his and those who share his beliefs.

    Also, why would one assume that the Little Satan is the primary target of such weapons and not the Great Satan?

  5. Allen said
    "any Allied action against Iran will find the Palestinian Authority to involved in its internal struggle to pose a threat to the Western flank"

    The clash that erupted in the Sabra district of Gaza Saturday, Jan. 6, had all the hallmarks of clan combat between the pro-Hamas Deri and the pro-Fatah Durmush families. Three Deiri gunmen were killed, two of them members of the Hamas special force.

    Counter-terror sources singles out this encounter as marking the further slide of the Hamas-Fatah showdown into dangerous waters. The Durmush clan commands the Army of Islam, the operational arm of al Qaeda in the Gaza Strip. It has now emerged that Abu Mazen’s lieutenant, Mohammed Dahlan, has hired the al Qaeda group to reinforce the Fatah war against Hamas.

    On Dec.28, Hamas special forces’ gunmen sprayed a group of Palestinians in the center of Gaza with gunfire. The brothers Mohammed and Ashraf Durmush, who had been in talks to join the Fatah campaign, were killed. Aware of their error, Hamas leaders sought to arrange a sulha , promising the culprits would be detained and punished. They reneged on their promise. The Durmush clansmen – aka the Army of Islami - thereupon stepped up their attacks on Hamas targets, including the home of foreign minister Mahmoud A-Zahar.

    Towards the end of last week, Dahlan, whom the Americans and Israelis treat as a Palestinian “moderate,” worthy of reward for taking on “extremists”, paid over a hefty sum to buy the services of the Durmush. Their minds worked the same way: since Durmush had a score to settle with Hamas anyway, why not take advantage of the money and arms made available by the Fatah’s backbone in the Gaza Strip, the preventive security service? This contract added up to an admission by Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah that it is unable to overcome Hamas in the Gaza Strip with the help of a radical group and has therefore turned to Islamic mercenaries to do their dirty work.

    The Dahlan-Army of Islam deal was cut in the same week that the Bush administration decided to ask Congress for another $86m to support the “security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas,” ahead of Condoleezza Rice’s Middle East tour. The US, Israel and Egypt have all contributed thousands of guns to those same “security forces.”

    In this regard, certain facts are worthy of note:

    1. The Durmush clan is another name for the al Qaeda cells, which call themselves variously The Army of Islam, Al Qaeda-Palestine, The Holy Jihad Brigade, and Fatah-Brigades of the Islamic Sword.

    2. This organization is holding two hostages: the Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit who was kidnapped in a joint raid with Hamas on the Israeli side of the Gaza border six months ago, and the Agence France Presse photographer Jaime Razuri, who was snatched last week. The Durmushes also abducted two Fox TV News journalists Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig on Aug. 16, 2006.

    3. Sources affirm that any military or financial assistances the Americans, Israelis and Egyptians render for propping up Abbas will be go directly to the Palestinian cells of al Qaeda in the Gaza Strip.

    "By way of deception, we will turn our enemies one against the other."

  6. The "moral high ground" and "world opinion" .... explain this bizarre Kabuki performance.

    Quite. And if Iran is deliberately inciting an attack on its nuke facilities, it presumably has factored the damage done to those facilities into the game.

    Perhaps a successfull strike would setback, a few years at most? Not even a half decade? Mayhap Iran judges the exchange to be worth it.

    Perhaps the real facilities are not the ones we see. People and empty buildings are cheap.

    Perhaps the nuke program is struggling more than percieved. Sacrifice the already failed nuke program in order to blacken Israel? Cheap at twice the cost.

    Perhaps its a cunning double bluff.

    And finally, perhaps, Dingdong is just completely, batshit crazy.

  7. elijah,

    Do you agree with me or not? Specific feedback would be appreciated. Thanks.

  8. Woah, going back to the Admiral Fallon thing

    Finally some leads > the guy is a naval aviator, but it seems he is NOT a pilot, but a Naval Flight Officer, which is the backseat guy. So his 4800 hours flying time and 1300 carrier landings were as a passenger? Theres also a "friend of political correctness" warning label on the man.

    Combine those two factors with EIGHT rows of decoration ribbons and that points at we have a guy who spreads shoepolish on his toast for breakfast.

    Frightening. Somebody please tell me otherwise, that hes really a stand up guy.

  9. It makes no difference if we've got the guts to stay the course in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even if we redeploy our troops, the Islamic terrorist groups will continue to fight.

    They've been fighting us ever since November 1979, when a group of Iranian students attacked and seized the American Embassy in Tehran.

    They're not going to stop just because we deploy our troops elsewhere. These Islamic terrorists are at war against America whether we fight back or not.

    Missing the Point

  10. Gateway Pundit is reporting some interesting news that may affect the calculus of action against Iran.

    Jordanian Islamists Attack Hezbollah & Hamas

  11. I definitely agree with you Allen.

    Commentators often view Gaza and Lebanon as a proxy war between Israel and Iran, while I view it as a proxy war between Sunnis and Shias (my outlook may be completely wrong however). Sunnis supporting Fatah/Siniora's government, Shias supporting Hamas/Hizbullah.

    I have a few questions.

    Is it preferable that there is civil war in Iraq, Gaza, and Lebanon if there is war with Iran/Syria?

    What do you think is/was the impetus for Sharon's Gaza pullout?

    Was there really shock that Hamas won elections when they were allowed to occur in Gaza?

    Did Hebrew actions during the Lebanon conflict have a unifying or straining effect on relations between Sunni and Shia in Lebanon? (By the way, watch Lebanon this week).

    As someone much wiser than I wrote,
    "The Americans, should they decide to go all out, have the technological means to finish Iran as a civilized nation for decades to come. Sabre-rattling by the Iranian President – actually designed to deter the US from attacking by highlighting Iran’s retaliatory potential – will only ensure that the Americans do go all out. There will be no holds barred." The Arabs or the Sunni Muslim nations are not going to lose any sleep should Iran go under, really go under.

    What worries me; what will be the impetus that will allow the U.S. to go all out?

  12. ..
    Excellent post, it's in, and you're linked, thanks!

    absurd thought -
    God of the Universe loves
    the NEW Hitler...

  13. elijah,

    Thanks for the opportunity to dialogue.

    Addressing Sharon’s Gaza pullout, I would begin by saying that Sharon, like most great leaders, was not burdened by the weight of humility. Further, as is often the case, his actions were not tempered by the reality of human mortality. In all probability, he thought himself the one person capable of pulling off the impossible task of achieving a genuine, perpetual peace between the Arabs and the Israelis.

    Although Madame Rice et al. expressed shock at the electoral victory of Hamas, to have been surprised would require them to be hopelessly ignorant of the ME or criminally dishonest. While each can form his own opinion, I believe the State Department to be equally ignorant and corrupt. When Dr. Rice takes to the air waves to tell the world that polling shows the Palestinian people favor peace with Israel, she is either a complete idiot or a dirty liar. The State Department’s own polling points to quite the opposite reality.

    The late war in Lebanon has arrested the plans for domination of that country by Hezbollah. As you have reported, many Lebanese have been left distrusting the motives of Hezbollah and its right to function within Lebanon as an autonomous, ungovernable force. To that extent, Israel is made stronger and its flank more secure from further aggravation than would have been the case otherwise. Moreover, resources that could have gone to strengthening Hezbollah militarily and politically must now be invested in rebuilding infrastructure. The damage to Hezbollah’s leadership cadre has yet to be quantified.

    Because the Shi’a of Iraq can be relied upon to support their coreligionists in Iran to a considerable degree, it would be better to have them fully immersed in battle with the Iraqi Sunni if the US does go after Iran. Certainly, target acquisition within Iraq will be simplified. The question is, how will the Kurds fall in a conflict with Iran, their support being vital to securing the northern passes and approaches to Iran’s oil and gas fields?

    I do appreciate your contributions here, as do the other regulars, I am sure.

    PS: While I have no way of knowing at this moment the extent of a'Q's ties to Abbas and Fatah, given the past duplicity of State, I would not be surprised. What an irony, hey?

  14. The White House should look into this carefully before setting the new Iraqi agenda.

    UK "Moderate" Islamic Leaders Preaching Hatred

    ___Secret video footage reveals Muslim preachers exhorting followers to prepare for jihad, to hit girls for not wearing the hijab, and to create a ‘state within a state’. Many of the preachers are linked to the Wahhabi strain of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia, which funds a number of Britain’s leading Islamic institutions.

    ___At the Sparkbrook mosque, run by UK Islamic Mission (UKIM), an organisation that maintains 45 mosques in Britain and which Tony Blair has said ‘is extremely valued by the government for its multi-faith and multicultural activities’, a preacher is captured on film praising the Taliban.

    ___Another speaker says Muslims cannot accept the rule of non-Muslims. ‘You cannot accept the rule of the kaffir [non-Muslim],’ a preacher, Dr Ijaz Mian, tells a meeting held within the mosque. ‘We have to rule ourselves and we have to rule the others.’

    I just love Muslims unplugged and uncensored.

    H/T LGF

  15. elijah wrote: Commentators often view Gaza and Lebanon as a proxy war between Israel and Iran, while I view it as a proxy war between Sunnis and Shias (my outlook may be completely wrong however). Sunnis supporting Fatah/Siniora's government, Shias supporting Hamas/Hizbullah.

    I don't think you're wrong in positing your view: in fact, it very well might represent proxy wars on varying levels. After all, multiple fault lines run through the Middle East, and it can become rather confusing to keep up with the shifting alliances and rivalries between sects, tribes and nations.

    What worries me; what will be the impetus that will allow the U.S. to go all out?

    elijah, I share the exact same concern as you. Indeed, a couple of weeks ago, I posted this at the BC:

    I believe that America needs a rude wake-up call in order to respond effectively, but I'm deeply apprehensive about how severe this call should manifest itself to be: a nuclear/biological attack in one of America's cities, or on Israel? Recall that Chamberlain only decided to wage war against Germany when the latter invaded Poland - and that was after Britain and France allowed Hitler to dismember Czechoslovakia through and through, as well as the calculated dismantlement of every aspect of the Versailles settlement.

    Where's our Poland? Israel? Iraq?

    allen wrote: Because the Shi’a of Iraq can be relied upon to support their coreligionists in Iran to a considerable degree, it would be better to have them fully immersed in battle with the Iraqi Sunni if the US does go after Iran.

    Iran's funding of aQ insurgents, thereby exposing the mullahs as not only failing to serve the interests of their Shiite brethren in Iraq, but aiding and abetting in directly killing fellow co-religionists - fermenting instability and sectarianism within Iraq at the expense of ideological purity.

    This will put a serious dent in Iran's aspirations of being the champion of Shi'ism , or Arab nationalism, for that matter: playing factions off one another has always been the mainstay of Arab politics, but anti-Persianism is much more pernicious and pervasive. Will we see Shiites aligning themselves with Sunnis against the Persians?

    I know, I know, that would require a gargantuan, almost impossible effort by the Arabs to look past their ideological and religious differences. Bi/tri-partisanship in Iraq isn't their strongest suit by a long, long mile.

    re: preaching hatred

    You know, I feel a little less outraged hearing such uncensored soundbites than if I had to put up with doublespeaking, two-faced, lying "moderates" and their utterly tired platitudes and unconvincing rhetoric.

  16. 'You Marry My Daughter and I'll Marry Yours!'

    With the aim of strengthening business ties, two Riyadh business partners in their 70s have married their teenage daughters (17-19) to each other, reported Sayidaty magazine, a sister publication of Arab News.

    The world is getting weirder...or is that sicker?