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Questions for an Historian

Reader comment on item: Obama's Iran Deal Has the Makings of a Catastrophe

Submitted by Alex (United States), Jul 14, 2015 at 19:42

I find some small reassurance that Dr. Pipes is using his prestige as a professional historian to begin placing the deal we just signed with Iran in the context by which future generations will judge it. At least the Munich agreement didn't elide potential agression Hitler could commit beyond the Sudetenland or send French and British engineers to Berlin to help develop the V-2 rocket.

There are some things I just don't understand, though (and I'd feel honored and edified if Dr. Pipes or others--particularly any anthropologists who might be reading--helped me):

Why does Iran want nuclear weapons, and how does this deal relate to their motive for seeking them?

The sense I take from most analysts who oppose the deal is that Iran is building nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in order to provide deterrents on behalf of expasionist activities in the Middle East, and the deal enables Iran to expand its regional aggression from asymmetrical to more conventional means of war.

I disagree, tentatively. It is on-its-face unbelievable that under this agreement, Iran will in the next decade or two build conventional military capabilities sufficient to invade and conquer countries like Saudi Arabia or Israel. Iran's contribution to the Assad regime in Syria, for instance, seems more focused on preserving a "Shi'ite corridor" to the Mediterranean Sea than on conquering the Sunni areas of Syria (although Iran does appear to be trying to take over the Sunni heartland of Iraq).

Further, even if Iran did conventionally take over the Middle East--or even the entire globe--as a result of the newly relaxed restrictions on their nuclear proliferation, missiles and conventional arms made possible through the deal just signed, how would such a conquest relate to the eschatological element of Iran's state ideology? Would they conquer the world and then destroy themselves with nuclear weapons in order to bring on the coming of the 12th Imam?

The solution to my conundrum lies--I suspect--in the fundamental cultural difference between Iran and the P5 + 1 countries with whom it just negotiated a deal (at least the Western ones) regarding the nature and role of negotiation and transaction as such in human society. The reason that the P5 + 1 did not make the Islamic Republic of Iran sign on the dotted line that it would not further aggress outside its borders or violate its previous international legal obligations on armaments--as Chamberlain did in fact require Hitler to do--is that the P5 + 1 countries allowed the maximalist, zero-sum negotiating style of the Islamicate Near East to direct the talks that led to this deal, along with the related cultural habit of informal, personal, fleeting shifts in negotiated terms.

Thus, Iran forced the concessions in this deal not to accomplish a realistic or fully serious geopolitical plan, but simply in order to enhance its geopolitical negotiating position on behalf of the fulfillment of a voracious, insatiable desire to barter that predates the deal and for which the deal is but another phase. I believe the Iranians like living on the edge, day by day, deriving their pride and accomplishments--not to mention a major sociopathic thrill--from stealing a march on the "Great Satan."

Thus, both their geopolitical agenda and their apocalyptic ideology are separate from the Iranians' most basic motives in negotiating this deal and in seeking nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Even the prospect of committing a nuclear war that ushers the return of the 12th Imam is but a reassuring contingency at the time when Iran's negotiating position reaches its apex.

Am I on to something? Do any anthropologists care to comment?

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".


Daniel Pipes replies:

The Iranians seek nuclear weapons to join the great power club; and perhaps to bring on the mahdi.

I think the mahdi is more on their mind that conquering the whole Middle East.

The idea is that anarchy will bring on the end of days.

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Reader comments (35) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Iran Deal - NOT Could be ... IS a catastrophe! [162 words]Susan BrowneJul 27, 2015 18:39224451
What if the Iran deal is a smokescreen? [206 words]Howard BrownJul 25, 2015 13:45224416
Joint Plan of Action [44 words]Paula KopaldJul 24, 2015 00:58224394
Is "Congressional" approval really needed? [269 words]Michael Francis KielyJul 22, 2015 14:21224370
Israel can not trust the Arabs [115 words]James TaggartJul 22, 2015 10:45224368
Los Árabes Sunitas colapsarán si no actúan pronto. El tiempo se ha acabado. [264 words]James TaggartJul 22, 2015 00:01224362
Sunni Arabs should act quickly or face collapse. Time is over [240 words]James TaggartJul 21, 2015 23:57224361
1"A United Israel is a Strong Israel" [280 words]YJ DraimanJul 21, 2015 12:54224357
Alliance [42 words]HillelJul 20, 2015 10:18224339
the alternate meaning of P5+1 [17 words]mythJul 16, 2015 06:09224246
Iran cannot trust this deal out of common sense [90 words]mythJul 16, 2015 06:02224245
2Arabs-Muslims declare 'Death to the Jews' in their Facebook profiles [888 words]YJ DraimanJul 16, 2015 00:51224240
2Easy to be critical, difficult to propose an alternative. [95 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Paula KopaldJul 15, 2015 21:19224231
atomic Zion [30 words]M McLJul 15, 2015 15:32224227
How to spend 100 B Dollars? [180 words]PrashantJul 15, 2015 15:15224226
What really bothers me... [43 words]SandersJul 15, 2015 12:31224225
1Western Nations Do Not Understand Iran [200 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
EmmettJul 15, 2015 10:22224223
1A question for Dr. Pipes [70 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
TitrzaJul 15, 2015 09:12224222
Thanks [2 words]TirtzaJul 17, 2015 06:53224222
Problem is the ayatollah regime [18 words]CzeslawJul 15, 2015 03:06224220
1I have to agree with Czeslaw... [20 words]m. langeJul 16, 2015 17:21224220
Good for Americans [182 words]Abu NoumanJul 14, 2015 22:56224218
3Treaty [27 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
RayJul 14, 2015 19:57224216
1Questions for an Historian [601 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
AlexJul 14, 2015 19:42224215
1We have just started an era of fires that cannot be extinguished - Obama has planted to seed for WWIII [170 words]NuritGJul 14, 2015 18:07224214
1Look To History [109 words]YonasonJul 14, 2015 16:53224212
1What does it mean [108 words]Anatoly TsaliovichJul 14, 2015 16:13224209
2Veto Override? [59 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
John in Michigan, USAJul 14, 2015 16:08224208
Knock, knock, knocking at the Nuclear Door [69 words]M ToveyJul 14, 2015 15:14224206
Evil incarnated [197 words]George KeselmanJul 14, 2015 14:21224205
1A no-win situation [190 words]AllenJul 14, 2015 13:46224204
1Obama has the virtue of consistency [118 words]Doug MayfieldJul 14, 2015 13:26224203
1Thank you Obama for being the dumb-ass you are [66 words]NuritGJul 14, 2015 13:16224202
1We MUST defeat this bill, no other option [74 words]NuritGJul 14, 2015 13:09224201
1WTH [82 words]EdwardJul 14, 2015 12:51224200

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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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