Is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad crazy, evil, or both?
Most likely both, but the question is something of a weird psychological litmus test — one I first gave myself back in April 2009 when I personally came within five feet of the Iranian president in the lobby of Geneva’s Hotel Intercontinental. We were both there to attend the UN’s Durban II Conference on (so-called) Human Rights, he as a speaker and I as a humble new media reporter.
The moment he marched by with his entourage, nodding to those of us in the lobby, from many nations, as if we were loyal subjects of the Islamic Republic, is etched in my brain forever. It was like seeing Hitler up close in, say, 1937. (In this case Godwin’s Law does not apply. Hitler comparisons are not just Internet inevitability — they’re required.)
I was so shaken by the experience, it drove old agnostic me to God. If you can believe in pure Evil, well, there has to be Good, etc. A video I made of the experience is here, if you haven’t seen it — “How Ahmadinejad Made Me a Believer.”
Well, A-jad is back, as most of you know, speaking at the UN and being walked out on by Western delegates, just as he was in Geneva. Mahmoud opens his mouth and out comes the usual — the U.S. is behind September 11, the Holocaust is an illusion, etc., etc. and everyone from the West gets up and leaves. Well, not everyone. Some minor delegates from Norway and Switzerland apparently stayed to hear the madman out.
Interesting tandem of countries that. I wonder if they would have walked out on Benjamin Netanyahu. No, they just would have treated him equally with A-jad. All’s fair, you know — just as long as you don’t inspect anybody’s bank accounts. “Poor Switzerland” is suffering too in the economic downturn.
But speaking of the prime minister of Israel, there is hope coming from that small benighted nation in this blog from Forbes: The War Against Iran Has Already Started. Their Trevor Butterworth is reporting on an article from Computer World on a new computer worm known as Stuxnet:
Computer World magazine recently pronounced Stuxnet, “a piece of malware so devious in its use of unpatched vulnerabilities, so sophisticated in its multipronged approach, that the security researchers who tore it apart believe it may be the work of state-backed professionals.” And according to the latest article in the magazine, speculation is rife that Israel may have been behind the worm – and that it was designed to sabotage or even take control of the operating systems for Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor.
Whether that is what really happened is beside the point. The reality of Stuxnet (and more to the point, its next incarnation) is that critical state infrastructure can be commandeered and destroyed without anyone firing a shot. The very prospect that Israel – or whomever – could shut down Iran by destroying its electrical grid through causing every generator to overload in a matter of minutes is a powerful signal: the signal that cyber war has physical consequences that make conventional air strikes look quaint and maladroit, so 20th century.
Ah, those devious Israelis — hard at work in the Silicon Wadi. Can you imagine — one day A-jad opens his laptop and … the worm eats the worm. Wouldn’t that be poetic justice? Well, nothing is ever that good. But my best guess — and it is just a guess — is that the Israelis are deeply engaged in such projects. They certainly aren’t waiting around for our pathetic President what’s-his-name who couldn’t even muster up the energy to support the Iranian democracy movement to do anything. You remember the guy — the one who thought the way to deal with Mad Mahmoud was negotiation. How’d that work out? Great judge of character, our president.
Anyway, back to cyberwar. Apparently it’s not just the stuff of sci-fi novels. It’s happening now. And if I were the Israelis, I’d go for it hard. Who’s going to stop them? Obama? If he does, they might commandeer his Blackberry. I learned how that’s done in a Daniel da Silva spy novel. And you know where the agents were from.
Meanwhile, this one’s for Mahmoud…
UPDATE: From commenter Gork – it’s not Bushehr, it’s Natanz. (must read blog)