Thursday, January 19, 2006

Being Mindful Of An Iranian Misstep

A recent article by Sami Moubayed (thanks to Joshua Landis's post and link) titled "Iran and the art of crisis management" makes many fine points regarding the Western world's reaction to Iran's resumption of nuclear activities. The counter-balance that Moubayed's insight brings is well-timed given the imminent escalation of the matter to the United Nations Security Council led by the United States.

In essence, the article maintains that Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's purpose in all of this is not to become the next Stalin, but rather to reinforce his position as a popular leader within his own borders. While he maintains the leadership position within his country, he is not a dictator in the image of Saddam Hussein; Ahmadinejad must answer to many powers within Iran much like the U.S. President must answer before Congress.

By proclaiming the Holocaust never occurred and that Israel must be wiped off the map, Ahmadinejad makes good with those that voted him into power. It also establishes the reflex reaction by the American government which, while not directly related to the comments, will want to crack down on the country and its nuclear intentions. It allows the Iranian President to look tough when he faces up to these verbal challenges.

From the article:
Ahmadinejad, by being so controversial, believes he can survive the storm with Washington. If a showdown with the West arises, he would welcome it and not shy away from confrontation, seeing it as a golden opportunity to make history and secure for himself a legacy as the man who fought the US.

Let us not forget that this man's idols are Nasser and Khomeini, not Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi. Confrontation that would not break him would actually make him stronger inside Iran. If Washington ignored Ahmadinejad, the results would be much more rewarding for the US. The Americans must accept the reality that sooner or later, as long as they are weak in the Middle East and defeated in Iraq, Iran will develop its nuclear program.

It has the power, money and intention to do so. If Iran does achieve this power, the US should find creative ways to persuade Iran, by diplomacy rather than confrontation, not to use these weapons for war purposes. One way is to remember that Iran has no direct conflict with Israel. It is at war with the Zionist state because Israel is at war with the Palestinians. If a fair Palestinian-Israeli peace deal were reached under US auspices, then Iran would have no reason to be at war with Israel.

Many of these issues that surround the Middle East political climate are wrapped up in histories that are centuries old, if not millenia. When the Western powers (with the U.S. at the helm) make the strategic move of drawing a line from Point A to Point B, it is more than likely to miscalculate the outcome in the long-term. Witness Iraq's current struggle just to maintain a viable state entity.

A military solution is a guaranteed failure and it is unfortunate that Iran already knows this.

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