Joined: 09 Sep 2006
|Posted: Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:58 pm Post subject: Between a rock and the hardest of places
|Between a rock and the hardest of places
Thursday, 10th July 2008
The Iranian dance of death continues as time progressively runs out. Iran upped the ante today for the second day running by test-firing missiles capable of hitting not just Israel but southern Europe -- having apparently doctored the pictures of yesterday’s firing to conceal the fact that one of its missiles didn’t work (the picture above showing the photoshopping of this image is from Little Green Footballs). Israel has responded by warning it will strike Iran if it feels directly threatened and has shown off a spyplane that it says can spy on Iran. Condi Rice says America will protect its allies if Iran attacks them. Really? How? At what stage? After Tel Aviv lies in flames?
There are faint noises off from both presidential candidates. McCain says tougher sanctions are needed. Obama says more talking is needed. Every time he says this – not to mention the fact that if this man becomes US President American military power will almost certainly be neutralised – Iran draws greater strength. We’ve been talking to Iran and imposing sanctions on it for years and all that’s happened is that we have given it the one thing it needs above all else – time to build its nuclear weapons.
The fact is that even now, with some experts believing that Iran will go nuclear in under a year, this situation is still not being taken seriously. Earlier this week, it was reported that American exports to Iran actually rose more than tenfold under President Bush. So much for sanctions. The decision by the French oil company Total to postpone plans to invest in an Iranian gas project is a rare exception to the rule that nothing, not even threatened genocide, can be allowed to get in the way of making money.
War must only ever be a last resort, but on Iran the west has signally failed to take all the necessary intermediate steps that might have defanged it and thus prevent war. Indeed, even though Iran has been at war with us since 1979, attacking western interests and killing our troops in Iraq, the west has studiously refused to fight back and pretended instead that war with Iran is something that can be avoided. The fact is that Iran is waging war upon us, but we are simply refusing to defend ourselves. Far from not talking to Iran, we still have embassies and ambassadors and diplomatic contacts (and who knows what has been smuggled into the west through Iranian diplomatic bags?) even while it is blowing up coalition troops by roadside bombs. Far from treating Iran as a genocidal belligerent, we have repeatedly prostrated ourselves before it. The EU has humiliated itself by offering Iran inducements to stop enriching uranium. Why on earth should it do so, when the mere prospect that it will get nuclear weapons already has the world grovelling at its feet?
The result of this craven weakness is ever greater bellicosity from Tehran, spurred on by what it perceives to be the terminal paralysis of its prospective victims. Not only has it thus become stronger and bolder in its dealings with the outside world. A regime which is intrinsically weak, having wrecked its country’s economy and earned the enmity of its population which yearns to be free of this tyranny, has been emboldened by the weakness of the west to crack down ever more ferociously on Iran’s suffering population. The latest horror is an onslaught on Iranian bloggers – the world’s window into Iran – who are now to be punished by mutilation or death:
Iran's parliament is set to debate a draft bill which could see the death penalty used for those deemed to promote corruption, prostitution and apostasy on the internet, reports said on Wednesday. MPs on Wednesday voted to discuss as a priority the draft bill which seeks to ‘toughen punishment for harming mental security in society,’ the ISNA news agency said. The text lists a wide range of crimes such rape and armed robbery for which the death penalty is already applicable. The crime of apostasy (the act of leaving a religion, in this case Islam) is also already punishable by death.
However, the draft bill also includes ‘establishing weblogs and sites promoting corruption, prostitution and apostasy’, which is a new addition to crimes punishable by death. Those convicted of these crimes ‘should be punished as “mohareb” (enemy of God) and “corrupt on the earth”,’ the text says. Under Iranian law the standard punishments for these two crimes are ‘hanging, amputation of the right hand and then the left foot as well as exile’.
So why is the west not taking the Iranian threat as seriously as it should? Why are voices in America and elsewhere now musing that ‘maybe we’ll just have to learn to live with a nuclear Iran’? Partly, heads are in the sand because it’s all just too difficult and terrifying and all options for action are appalling. Partly it’s because so much money is wrapped up in Iran, and money always talks louder than anything else. But, it’s also because people think that a nuclear Iran is principally a threat to Israel – and the demonisation of Israel has softened them up to think that it wouldn’t be such a bad idea if Israel ceased to exist.
It is very noticeable that, although Ahmadinejad and co regularly threaten the annihilation of Israel and are building the weapons to carry that out, there are – in Britain, at any event -- no expressions of horror or outrage, no statements of solidarity and commitment to prevent this second Holocaust from ever taking place. The reason is that a silent calculation has been made -- that Israel is eminently expendable.
Horrific as is such indifference to genocide, what such people fail to grasp is that a nuclear Iran will hold the rest of the world to ransom and force it to meet the demands of an apocalyptic messianic Islamist sect. That is not something with which the west can learn to live. If that were to happen, the west would die. But people also find Ahmadinejad’s bloodcurdling threats too ridiculous to be taken seriously – the mistake the west has consistently made about Islamic fanaticism, viewing it as it does through the prism of the arrogant western illusion that everyone in the world is at root a rational actor governed by a rational understanding of his own self-interest.
The outcome of this terminal frivolity is that since neither Israel nor the west can live with a nuclear Iran, the last resort of war may have to be activated – but it could have been avoided had the west not behaved over these past years with such reckless spinelessness. There can be no doubt that war with Iran is a fearsome prospect which might well unleash heaven knows what horrors. But there’s a worse prospect yet – a nuclear Iran. We are between a rock and a very hard place indeed.
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