HUMINT: Iran Malaise

West Adds to Strains on Iran's Lifeline

To curb demand, which has been driven in part by subsidies that keep the domestic pump price at a mere 35 cents a gallon, the government plans to begin rationing gasoline in March, a measure so unpopular, and potentially explosive, that rationing plans have been put off several times in the past.

Iran uses petroleum (and other) subsidies to manufacture consent. That's why such a rich country can hardly breath. The economics of the situation are straight forward. International demand is the only complicating factor. The West is inadvertently paying for the lifestyles of the ayatollahs who are indeed their enemies. What to do? Hmmmm, nothing sounds like a good plan, but we've been trying that for years and it hasn't worked yet. Maybe we should try to do "nothing" even harder than we are doing "nothing" right now. The only one who can really help the West do "nothing" are defeatists who are also journalists. All they have to do is scream bloody murder when a soldier of the West acts like the soldier he or she was trained to be. Oh yeah, and I almost forgot... the Press should also scream bloody murder when the President of the United States has the audacity to behave Presidentially. Orders to kill the enemy on sight are anathema to everything they stand for as a defeatist.

Iran seen as key to untangling Iraq

Indeed, Iranians say, their image of an ideal settlement in Iraq looks remarkably like America's: a strong, democratically elected government in Baghdad — that would, by dint of Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority, be a natural ally of Tehran — an end to the violence, and preservation of territorial integrity. But with one important exception. "The difference is
Iran doesn't want to see the U.S. claim victory. The U.S. shouldn't come out of this battle victorious. And Iranians perceive that the dominant part of that objective has been achieved," Tehran political scientist Nasser Hadian said. "It is no longer plausible for the U.S. to claim victory in Iraq."

Indeed, Iranians say they practice democracy when the opposite is true. The difference between U.S. and Iranian visions for democracy in Iraq are the differences between securing American interests in Iraq and securing Iranian interests in Iraq. Ask yourself, how does influence spread in the Middle East? Now ask yourself, do enemies peacefully compete in the ME or do they slug it out in bloody death matches? Now ask yourself about the interplay between blame and responsibility in the [Persian | Arab] mind. I don't know what your answers are telling you, but mine are screaming. If the U.S. does not secure a democratic Iraq (democracy as understood by those of us in America who actually practice it) Iran will envelop it. Subsequently, Iran will have huge market share at OPEC, so huge indeed that the leverage represented by Saudi Arabia would be gone...

Hmmmm, that should start ringing some alarm clocks for people unable to see through the morning fog of a great big war. If Iran secures its interests in Iraq, - Neighboring states will organize a response to counter the Iran-Iraq alliance. That's why some analysts are predicting a nuclear arms race in the region. I for one, am predicting a regional war that will lead to the targeting of Israel as well as oil wells in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Take those three nations out of our global energy portfolio and we are talking about WWIV.

There is however one hope... it's not one that I usually count on, but it is hope in an otherwise hopeless situation. Imagine, if you can - every important figure in the geo-political equation of the Middle East is sufficiently shortsighted to make the entire problem disappear into a quantum singularity. To make this plan work, we must all agree to forget everything we have learned about Iran over the last quarter century. I'm willing to try if you are? Ready, set GO! ---- Did it work for you? I could name a few politicians it appears to work for but I won't. No matter how hard I try(drink), intentional forgetting just doesn't work for me.

Iran rejects U.S. accusations it armed insurgents in Iraq with roadside bombs

Iran rejects U.S. accusations it armed insurgents in Iraq with roadside bombs

How about providing the U.S. access to investigate the evidence of Iranian munitions manufactured inside Iran? It looks as though Iranian officials have serious trouble comprehending the basic mechanics of international diplomacy. Iran Rejects the U.S. by attacking the United States wherever and whenever it can; through inflammatory rhetoric about the United States and through its collusion with dictatorships in Asia and Latin America. At every turn, Iran is turning the notion of responsible government on its head. The trajectory toward greater human freedom in the world is supported by the United States today, like no other nation in the history of our planet. It is an affirmation of the American mission in this world that Iran - in all of its spiritual bankruptcy - stands opposed to freedom's march. Tehran, under its current leadership, will find itself compared to the worst of the worst in the annals of human history if it fails. If Tehran under its current leadership succeeds... without freedom, what point would there be to read about history at all?

Diane Sawyer's Interview with Ahmadinejad

AHMADINEJAD TO SAWYER: Are you trying to solve the American problem in
Iraq? These things need to take place at a diplomatic level. You are just a journalist.

Dianne did an outstanding job interviewing Mahmood. She stayed on point but he managed to dance around her questions. It's obvious he never intended to answer them. That's how things work in Iran. The government there doesn't answer to any democratic constituency as we in America understand it. Every time an American journalist interviews Iranian officials, and is willing to ask tough questions, they will see first hand how diplomatic progress with them is highly improbable if not totally impossible. This interview, and recent changes in both tone and language used by Ahmadinejad, suggest that he is being coached by the Supreme Leader's office. They are most likely telling him to use the language of peace to divide Iran's enemies in Europe, America and the Middle East. It worked for Khatami, but Iran had more options back then. Now, it is clear that Iranian officials feel threatened. They must realize that they have finally been backed into a corner. They are gambling everything they have on their hope that there is no bight underneath an American bark.

My favorite part of the interview was when Mahmood invoked the rational procedures of American jurisprudence to assert his country's innocence. He basically told Dianne, "prove it". When she (who is just a pathetic journalist according to Mahmood) asked about Iranian culpability in the deaths of 170 American service members, he expected her to prove it. In Dianne's context, she had evidence worthy of journalistic investigation. In war, evidence worthy of investigation followed up by Mahmood's distractions and denials, is tantamount to proof. What Mahmood really meant to say was, "prove it to the American public by the judicial standards Americans are accustomed to".

In the history of the United States, American leadership tended to allow sufficient time for emotional tensions to cool before making difficult decisions about foreign policy. U.S. diplomatic efforts with Tehran have followed that same model. The fact is, Iran was given more than a quarter century to cool off and begin the tried and tested process of joining a community of nations who work together everyday for peace in the world. At every turn, Iranian officials squander their opportunities to become constructive partners. At every turn, they shift the blame and responsibility to the United States or Israel. The day Americans finally take responsibility for Iran instead of simply barking at Iran for its habitual transgressions, will not be as Ahmadinejad imagines it.




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