With the Muslim Brotherhood poised to emerge dominant in Egypt, uprisings rocking government foundations in Jordan and Tunisia and Algeria, domestic unrest bubbling up in Syria and Yemen, and Iranian-backed Hezbollah establishing control of Lebanon, the situation in the Middle East is ratcheting up from mere chronic instability to chaos. And looming over it all is the catalyst of a rabidly anti-Western, theocratic regime in Iran, in hot pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Recently I attended a packed screening at Los Angeles' Luxe Hotel of the new documentary Iranium, about the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran, produced by the Clarion Fund, the same filmmakers of the controversial Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West and The Third Jihad: Radical Islam’s Vision for America. The audience so overflowed that the Luxe had to open up the adjacent conference room to accommodate everyone.
Featuring an array of compelling experts including former ambassadors John Bolton and Dore Gold, the Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney Jr. and Clare Lopez, scholars Bernard Lewis and Walid Phares, political writers Clifford May and Kenneth Timmerman, and more, Iranium makes the case that keeping nuclear capability out of the hands of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the mullahs has never been a more urgent task. Allowing it would result in a tectonic shift in the balance of power not only in the Middle East, but across the world, Gaffney asserts ominously that we have gone beyond the point where we should discuss the “risks associated with acting, to the point where we must discuss the risks associated with not acting.”
Narrated by the distinctively smoky-voiced, Oscar-nominated, Iranian-American actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, who starred in 2009’s award-winning The Stoning of Soraya M. (banned in Iran because of the international attention it drew to the ongoing atrocity there of execution by stoning), Iranium opens with background about the current Iranian regime, which seized power with the overthrow of Shah Reza Pahlavi in 1979 and the ascension of the Ayatollah Khomeini, whose hateful visage glared out across his country from many a wall-sized banner. Khomeini, the man who took the “fun” out of fundamentalism, instituted a reign of the ugliest theocratic oppression in modern times and established Iran as the world’s foremost state sponsor of international terrorism. Iranium presents video of then-President Jimmy Carter praising the country -- hilariously, in retrospect -- as “an island of stability.”
Swiftly paced and increasingly gripping, the documentary depicts the rise of the IRGC, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and the brutal power it wields behind the scenes; Iran’s expansion into South America and its alliance with Venezuela’s crafty socialist thug Hugo Chavez; its shrewd oil deals with China and Russia; and the apocalyptic insanity of Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly promised to wipe Israel from the face of the earth, and who is quoted in the film claiming that the highest form of art is “the art of martyrdom” -- a man for whom the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction is not a deterrent but an incitement.