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too much divination - too little realpolitik

Reader comment on item: The Mystical Menace of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Submitted by Tarob (Sweden), Jan 10, 2006 at 13:22

Well, well, the iranian president think he's on a divine mission to prepare for the arrival of the mahdi... well, back in the jungle, sorry, Washington there is a goverment whose leader and a major par of its elecorate that believes God is guiding the political will of the country, that the "end of days" is fast approaching, evolution is a scam and that the final show down between good and evil is at hand.

Ok, don't get me wrong, I'm not here to repeat for the umpteenth time the regular left-wing ranting about the "god fearin' dubya and his right wing christian southern' support group". My beef is more about painting a bigger picture. than Mr. Pipes does.

Just as the US and its political policy is the result of a constant tug of war between different political forces, so it is in Iran. Right now a dangerous person is occupying the high seat over there, in that i agree with Mr. Pipes conclusion.

But so is the case in Washington. We have two uncompromising, god fearin' forces heading towards a collision. What is needed here is a change of leadership om both sides. Time to bring in the champions of realpolitik. Apeasement bulls**t, Chamberlain tactics, some would say. No, let the pragmatic sides in both countries take control. We need a return to the cold war politics of the middle east. A more sensible approach in solving problems, influencing western influence, etc.

The middle east has its own sense of history, culture and identity, and history has shown - as with China - that foreign meddlings that border on direct military involvement by outside, particulary western forces, always led to mess, and rarely to stability. No, the way to go is cutting deals and using local allies whose power base is real, unlike mr. Chalabi and his cohorts.

Look, Mideastern politics has always been a bysantine mess of changing alliances, and a place where different social- and political centers hook into each other: the family merging into the klan and the klan into the etnic group, and the ethnic group into the religious, and the country being somekind of vacuous thing mostly used as an excuse for all the power struggles going on all these levels. This is what runs politics over there, and this is what you have to deal with. The US ignored this when it entered Iraq, and paid the price.

Let's look at Afghanistan. The relative success of that US venture compared to Iraq is a good example of using pragmatism instead of going into a foreign country with a mix of US cockyness and a feeling of "divine intervention". The Invasion of Afghanistan worked because The US army in good old fashioned cold war tactics backed one side in a local conflict, the warlords, and let those guys do the dirty work. These guys are no saints, and have no liking for democracy. Yet they are local power figures that can win a peace and command the respect of the local population. Working with, or sometimes around these guys makes things in Afghanistan move a head instead of backwards, as in Iraq.

Iran is too big to invade for the US, and with the morale and stamina of the forces under pressure from iraq deployment it is not a realistic option. The israelis are of course worried about Iran going nuclear, still they have had at least 200 nuclear warheads of their own ready for over 20 years, and no one has exerted pressure on them to relinquish their WMD. This is well known in the middle east, and doies not exacly help in getting Iran on board for negotiations.

So looking at this my advice to the US would be as follows: Try to use the Shiite leadership in Iraq to influence the political situation in Iran. Have them convince the hardliners in Teheran that the US might be Satan, but a Satan that at the moment is helping out spreading shiite power in the region. Therefore it would be smart to lay low with the divine rethoric and the nuclear ambitions for a while. Then, at the same time, try to encourage the economical and educational development of the country. Boycotts do more damage than good. A growing an prosperous economy will help to lessen support for the religious fantazies of the fundamentalists.
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