Faster, Please!

Iran Puzzles and Prospects

When I try to understand what’s going on in the Islamic Republic, I always try to reason from fundamentals: there is an intense succession struggle under way, the regime has had some serious bad news of late, and the mullahs are clearly very worried about the possibility of an American military attack, focused on the nuclear sites.

The serious bad news begins with the crashing oil prices, which puts a dent in their terrorist and nuclear budget, and worsens–even more–the plight of Iran’s citizens. The bad news continues with the exposure of some of their activities in Iraq, which will apparently get worse for them in coming days. Ambassador Khalilzad has promised details, as I had urged several days ago on this blog. The mullahs don’t like that, they hate sunshine pouring in under their rocks, they like to operate in the shadows, not in public. So they have their problems.

On the other hand, they excel at deception, and it is folly to take events in Tehran at their apparent face value. The attacks on Ahmadi-Nezad, about which so much has been written of late, are certainly “real,” in the sense that people are saying and publishing such things. On the other hand, it seems very manipulative to me. When official newspapers publish critical remarks, that’s fine with the mullahs, but when students demonstrate against him, they get rounded up and thrown in the dungeons. I would be astounded if he were removed, since I believe he represents the regime. I do believe that, facing the problems at hand, they would strain to convince the West that “moderation” is under way again, and that we should ease up on the pressure (such as it is) and “give peace a chance.” That would enable them to plow ahead on their atomic bombs and missiles, push harder for an overthrow of the legitimate government of Lebanon, and organize further attacks on Israel.

That is why I believe that the campaign against Ahmadi-Nezhad is fundamentally deceptive, a disinformation effort aimed at slowing down any serious countermeasures on our part. I’m sure that Iranian diplomats are whispering sweet nothings to our people, and I’m sure that Iranian intelligence officers are telling their Western counterparts to take it easy, things are moving in a good direction, so don’t rock the ark.

It’s always best to reason from first principles and the first of all principles regarding the Islamic Republic is that they declared war on us in 1979 and have waged it ever since. They will make tactical accomodations to changing circumstances, but they cannot abandon the war without abandoning their very essence. Our goal has to be regime change, and I hope that the latest flurry of revelations means that we have understood it at long last.

Live is full of surprises. Firm action against Iran terrorists would be quite a surprise. I really have trouble imagining it. But I would certainly celebrate it.