Wednesday, June 25, 2008

'Surrender, Make a Deal, or Win'

Amir Taheri explains in a New York Post article why Iran doesn't believe there will be any military action against them if they continue working towards the bomb--and will end up with it eventually:

In 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the then newly-minted President of the Islamic Republic and darling of the IRGC, unveiled a strategy based on the assumption that once George W. Bush is out of the White House, the United States would bite the bullet and accept a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic as "regional superpower" in the Middle East.

Two events convinced Ahmadinejad that his strategy was correct:

The first came in May 2006 when the Bush administration, then at the nadir of its unpopularity because of the situation in Iraq, joined the line of supplicant Europeans begging Tehran to negotiate a deal.

That unexpected shift in Washington's policy produced the opposite effect.

Far from persuading Ahamdinejad that this was a good time to defuse the situation, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's attempt at nuance and multilateral diplomacy convinced Tehran that the Americans had blinked.

The second event that confirmed Ahmadinejad's belief that "America cannot do a damn thing" came with last year's National Intelligence Estimate (NIE).

Using a language of obfuscation, the NIE claimed that Tehran had abandoned key aspect of its nuclear program in 2003. The NIE undermined the whole case brought by the International Atomic Energy Agency against the Islamic Republic.

Whatever one might say about Ahmadinejad, one thing is certain: he plays an open hand. He is convinced that the US does not have the stomach for a fight and that Bush is the last American president to even dream of pre-emptive war.

He thinks the dominant mood in the US, and the West in general, is one of pre-emptive surrender. ("WHY THE US POLICY ISN'T WORKING - AND IRAN WILL GET NUCLEAR WEAPONS").

I don't think Taheri is the only one who thinks that the end of the Bush administration will toll the end of an historical moment in our confrontation with radical Islam. A moment far too soon, after far too much neglect. How much of Israel's recent demonstration or air power is explained by the shortening time they sense remaining before a possible Obama presidency leaves them more isolated and exposed than ever to an Iranian nuclear threat?
Taheri's conclusion deserves to be thought about. Hard. He writes:

The Islamic Republic has been at war against the United States and the international system it leads for almost 30 years. This has been a low intensity war because the US and its allies have shied away from full-scale confrontation. The US has shown it has lots of power but not the courage to use even a fraction of it. The Islamic Republic's power, on the other hand, is "tiny," as Senator Barack Obama has noted. But the mullahs have been prepared to use that "tiny" power in full, with already devastating effects.

The issue is not how to avoid war with the Islamic Republic. It is how to end a war that has been going on for almost 30 years.

As in all wars there are three ways to end this one: surrender, make a deal, or win.

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