Iran's 'Rational' Suicide

JCS Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey must have a big mind, if we accept Emerson’s dictum that consistency is the hobgoblin of little ones. Yesterday he “addressed remarks he made in a CNN interview in which he referred to the Iranian government as a ‘rational actor’ and said an attack by Israel on Iran would be ‘destabilizing’ and ‘not prudent,'” reports Jeremy Herb at The Hill:


The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a Senate panel on Tuesday he did not counsel Israel against attacking Iran over its nuclear program. Gen. Martin Dempsey told lawmakers on the Senate Budget Committee, “We’ve had a conversation with them about time, the issue of time.”

Dempsey also defended his comment that Iran is a “rational actor.” Dempsey said that he doesn’t mistake Iran’s rhetoric for a lack of reason, and said that even Iran’s actions that are unacceptable to the U.S. fit the country’s pattern over the past 30 years. “We can’t afford to underestimate our potential adversaries by writing them off as irrational,” Dempsey said.

Please, Gen. Dempsey: read my book How Civilizations Die (and Why Islam Is Dying, Too)How can you tell if a person, or a country, is a “rational actor,” or not? Here’s a simple one: What is the rational self-interest of a bank robber with terminal brain cancer and no living relations? If such an individual takes hostages, you tell the police snipers to take their best shot. Iran is the national equivalent of a criminal with a tumor: it has the fastest rate of fertility decline recorded in world history. The table below comes from the UN Population Prospects website:


Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Total fertility (children per woman)
Medium variant

Period Total fertility
1950-1955 6.93
1955-1960 6.93
1960-1965 6.93
1965-1970 6.70
1970-1975 6.24
1975-1980 6.27
1980-1985 6.54
1985-1990 5.62
1990-1995 3.95
1995-2000 2.62
2000-2005 1.96
2005-2010 1.77
2010-2015 1.59
2015-2020 1.45

Iranian women bore 7 children in 1970, and an average of 1.5 today, the same as Europe. In the UN’s “low variant” forecast, fertility will fall to just 1 child per female.

Europe took a century to make the transition to the present demographic winter. Iran has done it in a single generation. Economic catastrophe is inevitable, because the small cohort of today’s children can’t support the huge cohort of their parents’ generation.

Gen. Dempsey may not have gotten the message, but Muslim leaders have. As I wrote in the book:

Muslim leaders show more panic about their own demographic decline than the most despondent Western pessimist. The presidents of Iran and Turkey, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Tayyip Erdogan, both warn of that their nations may be extinguished in a single generation. For the most part, the English-language media has ignored their warnings, but they pervade the Turkish- and Persian-language press and blogs. The sense of impending doom that pervades much of the Muslim world makes these countries dangerous and unstable. The risk to world security is not the gradual triumph of Islam by demographic accretion, but an era of instability, social breakdown, and aggression impelled by despair.

Iran’s Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, warns that national extinction will be the result of his country’s collapsing birth rate. On September 10, 2010, the Iranian president declared during a meeting with officials in Alborz province,

“Two children” is a formula for the extinction of a nation, not the survival of a nation . . .   The most recent data showing that there are only 18 children for every 10 Iranian couples should raise an alarm among the present generation  . . . .  This is what is wrong with the West. Negative population growth will cause the extinction of our identity and culture. The fact that we have accepted this places us on the wrong path. To want to consume more rather than having children is an act of genocide. [i]

The Persian-language site Javan Online quoted President Ahmadinejad and also cited sociologist Majid Abhari warning of a “tidal wave of elderly” due to “decreased fertility” coming in the next few decades, leading to “workforce reduction and higher social insurance and medical costs due to an overwhelmingly elderly population.”


Iran is running out of people, and it is running out of oil, and it will run out of oil just about when it most needs the revenue to support the retirement of its own “baby boom” of the 1960s and 1970s. That is why Iran has a rational reason to take risks that might seem insane and self-destructive to countries less beset by existential risks.

Adolf Hitler thought just the same way in 1939, as I reported in a Feb. 3 post on this blog. The whole civilized world underestimated him, too. It’s time to tell the snipers to take their best shot.



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