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The Psychology of Counter Hegemony

Reader comment on item: That NIE Makes War against Iran More Likely

Submitted by Mike (United States), Dec 15, 2007 at 11:47

With all due respect to Dr. Pipes, war with Iran and its supporters is inevitable, regardless of the NIE. The NIE will not make war more or less likely. The question remains as regards the nature of the war. Will the war continue to be a war of limited, intermittent aggression by proxies, a limited attack on Iran's nuclear facilities with the resulting counter-attacks or a full-fledged, ongoing conventional war possibly ending with nuclear attacks?

There are dominant (hegemonic) military and cultural entities such as the USA, Russia, China and India with their proxies and there are Counter-hegemonic (seeking to undermine the dominant or to become dominant) entities with their proxies. The Iranian leadership and Jihadists wage war in the nature of counter-hegemonic forces as has been documented by many authors, using low intensity, asymmetrical tactics. They are having great success with this approach on a worldwide basis. They also wage war on a psychological basis that incrementally increases the psychological pressure on the opponent, weakening the opponents will to fight.

As the Israeli leadership continues to make concessions and shows weakness in its policies, the gradual increase in pressure will continue. The threat of Iranian nuclear capability is as effective psychologically as actually possessing the technology. It's proxies on Israel's borders provide ongoing psychological pressure. Ultimately, due to psychological, political and intermittent military attacks, the goal is to have Israel give up without a fight.

This war is about the frog in the boiling pot. If one drops the frog into the boiling water, it will jump out immediately. If one drops the frog into tepid war and gradually turn up the heat, the frog will not recognize that it is gradually boiling to death. The Iranian and Jihadist leadership is shrewd in this regard and should not be underestimated.

I disagree that the Iranian leadership would use nuclear weapons immediately if they possessed them. I believe they would use them as psychological leverage with the more likely scenario of providing suitcase nukes to proxies that would leave Israeli territory more or less in tact. They would achieve their goal of Israel's destruction as a Jewish state and still be able to use the territory for their benefit.

Of course, one must be prepared for all possible scenarios, but my take on the psychology of the situation is that pressure is being applied by various threats that undermine the will of the opponent. More attention needs to be made to countering this aspect of the Jihad than has been made to date.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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