Friday, August 10, 2007

Dick Cheney needs a muzzle, a sturdy chain...and a tranquilizer dart

Remember how a couple of weeks ago, the story was that the Bush administration does not trust any future administration to 'deal with' Iran? Maybe you have forgotten, because the M$M – good little cocktail-weenie-wagging lackeys that they are - promptly moved along as if there was nothing to see there.

They certainly haven’t bothered to report on the hostilities we have been engaging in with Iran "below the CNN line" practically since the first days of the invasion, so what do we expect? But rest assured, Saddam had barely been toppled when the first American commandos were sent across the border into Iran, snooping for nukes.

On two borders, the US has combat troops, and in addition the U.S. encourages terrorism inside Iran. The U.S. materially supports Jundallah, and offshoot of al Qaeda, to commit terrorist acts inside Iran, staged from Pakistan. The Kurdish areas of Iraq are a nest of terrorists. They don’t just attack Turks. The Kurdish areas have been a staging ground for Kurdish paramilitaries to train; then they cross the border into the Kurdish areas of Iran and ambush Republican Guard troops. In addition, Iran has accused the United States of shooting down two of their military aircraft that were in Iranian airspace.

And now we have Dick Cheney, lunging for the end of the chain, snarling, foaming at the mouth and demanding more war.

Cheney, who's long been skeptical of diplomacy with Iran, argued for military action if hard new evidence emerges of Iran's complicity in supporting anti-American forces in Iraq; for example, catching a truckload of fighters or weapons crossing into Iraq from Iran, one official said.

The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to talk publicly about internal government deliberations.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice opposes this idea, the officials said. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has stated publicly that "we think we can handle this inside the borders of Iraq."

Lea Anne McBride, a Cheney spokeswoman, said only that "the vice president is right where the president is" on Iran policy.

Bush left no doubt at his news conference that he intended to get tough with Iran.

"One of the main reasons that I asked Ambassador Crocker to meet with Iranians inside Iraq was to send the message that there will be consequences for . . . people transporting, delivering EFPs, highly sophisticated IEDs (improvised explosive devices), that kill Americans in Iraq," he said.

He also appeared to call on the Iranian people to change their government.

"My message to the Iranian people is, you can do better than this current government," he said. "You don't have to be isolated. You don't have to be in a position where you can't realize your full economic potential."

The Bush administration has launched what appears to be a coordinated campaign to pin more of Iraq's security troubles on Iran.

Those who are frothing at the mouth, all hot and bothered to get their war on with Iran need to sit down and listen up.

I am going to explain a few things in simple enough terms for even a conservative to understand, like why Iran would never fall like Iraq did. Put that notion down before it blows up and hurts someone, and consider some facts:

  • Iranians have a strong national identity that is founded in common history; unlike Iraq, which was cobbled together from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire, and occupied by Britain from 1917 to 1958. Iraq has existed for 90 years, and been occupied by “liberators” for 45 of them.
  • Iran is four times the size of Iraq, with terrain that ranges from placid coastline to rugged mountains.
  • The average male Iranian is just under 25 years of age.
  • Iran has as many males between 15-64 as Iraq has total population
  • Iran will not fall simply because a figurehead might be deposed. Iran will not fall so long as one Mullah remains alive anywhere in the country.
  • Iran has a relatively modern military that has not been decimated by two decades of war and sanctions.
  • Iran has the ability to shut down the passage of oil tankers, and send the price of oil to triple-digit per barrel prices.

In Iran, the Islamic Revolution was a means to an end, with the Ayatollah filling the role of ‘charismatic leader’ that is required of any revolutionary movement. It was the perfect combination of opportunity, true-believers, and opportunists, all coming together to overthrow a feckless thug, installed by a CIA coup that deposed the democratically elected Iranian Nationalist Mohammed Mossadegh, because he nationalized the oil industry, and pissed off the Brits. They wanted their oil company back, and that wag that didn't know his place gone. John Foster Dulles was all to happy to lend a hand.

In post revolutionary Iran, the Mullahs decreed the age of majority to be 15. Iranians can enter into contracts, marry, join the military and enjoy universal suffrage at 15 years of age. This has been an interesting social experiment, - control through empowerment. That data, just now coming in will be interesting to analyze once available.

When the average citizen is younger than the revolution, the revolution is over. Maybe not officially, but de facto. Birth rates are down from a post-revolution high of over 5 per woman to just under 2. The pig is passing through the snake, but it will be a discernible bulge for the foreseeable future. The average Iranian is around 25, in a population of over 65 million, while the Islamic revolution was 28 years ago come November.

The United States needs to realize that when dealing with Iranians, we are not dealing with a purely Islamic culture. Persian culture predates Islam by at least 1500 years, and the Persian people have not been invaded, conquered and occupied in modern times. Hell, not since the Arabs Islamized them seven hundred years ago.

We need to be engaging in diplomacy, even if it takes six months to decide ‘what will be the design and color of the peace table?’ We should also be engaging the country economically. They have a monolithic, one-dimensional energy economy. The Mullahs control the population by controlling the economy. Economic engagement would be far more effective than military engagement. (And no, I don’t mean by wrecking it – I mean by encouraging prosperity.)

Iran would present a military challenge in the best of times. With an overstretched and worn out military, the mere notion is madness on an epic scale. If we engage in diplomacy and economic diversification, the Mullahs fade from power in another decade. Start a shooting war, cement their power for 50-100 more years.

[*Note: The population of Iran has been corrected. Thanks to astute commenter Ben Cronin for pointing out my quite inexcusable error.]