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Are the Iranians really fed up? I doubt it.

Reader comment on item: Deterring Tehran

Submitted by Pat (United States), May 9, 2006 at 19:55

The Basiji was a militia movement set up by Ayatollah Khomeini. It consisted mainly of child volunteers who were used in human waves to clear mines during the Iran-Iraq war. Their contribution to the Iranian war effort is a source of national pride. Since the war, their numbers have grown and they are a large source of Ahmadinejad's support. The children of the revolution are now the leaders. The influence of the Basiji has only grown since Ahmadinejad became president. They currently number about 12 percent of the population and that number will grow in the coming years. Now they are being enlisted in the drive to obtain nuclear weapons. Instead of being sent into the desert, they are being sent to school to obtain training in science and technology. Tomorrow, many of these revolutionaries will work on uranium enrichment.

The Iranian Revolution turned Shiites from waiting for the Imam to doing what they can to hasten his return. If that is their goal, they have no reason to negotiate. Ahmadinejad thinks his role is to prepare Iran for the return of the 12th Imam. While being interviewed soon after his election, Ahmadinejad asked: 'is there an art that is more beautiful, more divine, more eternal than the art of the martyr's death?" He concluded an address to the UN by imploring God to bring about the return of the 12th Imam. This might be on a par with George Bush saying "may God bless America", but Ahmadinejad's apocalyptic viewpoint makes his words sound less benign.

Given the religiosity of the Iranian people, we are fooling ourselves if we think they are secretly opposed to the mullahs running the country today. Ronald Reagan believed a moderate opposition was growing in Iran and it nearly destroyed his presidency. We have been waiting for decades for Iranians to overthrow this regime just as they did the Shah. It hasn't happened. It won't, anytime soon. Air strikes would most likely propel them to support Ahmadinejad even more strongly. He may be a whacko, but he's their whacko. A people with an apocalyptic world view cannot be deterred. People who see life on earth as a worthless existence and death as the true beginning of life have no reason to care about anyone else's sensibilities.

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