Shiite Shenanigans

Oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. This is just over a month since the previous attacks in the Persian Gulf. Houthi rebels in Yemen, a client project of Iran, attacked oil wells and pipelines and an airport in Saudi Arabia.

The Mullahs of Iran are trying to raise the price of oil, to create a better market for their black market oil that they are trying to sell around President Trump’s sanctions.

Are they biting off more than they can chew? I saw that Prime Minister Abe of Japan happened to be in Tehran at the time of the attack, and tried to say some soothing but warning things about escalations.   One of the bombed ships is Japanese.

The Iranians are saying “it ain’t us,” but everyone knows it is them. They are saying that America bombed the ships in order to blame Iran for the provocation. Only the most virulent America-haters are going with the Iranian version, which means it is making the rounds on social media at three times the speed of truth.

 

The problem with Iran is that their theocracy puts the most ardent Mullahs in positions of power. Those guys believe their scriptures, and have internalized some prophecies that are specific to Shia Islam. They would like nothing better than to trigger the Final War that will bring about the sequence of events prophesied for the end of the world.

As a believer in sacred writings myself, I see their conviction as an admirable trait. Too bad they have determined to follow the wrong sacred writings. But I can understand them in a way that the pundits of Washington cannot. I relate to their conviction.

There is a limited number of ways to deal with Iran. Diplomacy is bound to fail unless it accompanies a strategy that addresses their religious ideas.

  1. First, convince them that now is not the time for that eagerly-sought Final War. That a war at this time would not be the eschatological end-times war, but a war that would bring the wrath of the West down on their heads and only set their cause back by a century or three. They would need to be convinced that the war that would come would be far more deadly and destructive than the wars they have observed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  2. Alternatively, bring down the regime of the Mullahs, and install some other government that does not give primary place to religious ideologues.
  3. Third, and best, would be a conversion; a wave of Iranian people coming to Christ and rejecting the religion of false peace, peacefully replacing their own government with something good.

Any approach that simply expects more of the same; applying economic sanctions and occasionally setting their nuclear weapon ambitions back a little bit, is a bad approach. Eventually they will succeed.

I do not expect that they will succeed in triggering the wars that will bring about the End of Time. I do expect that could succeed in triggering a major war, with millions of people displaced and killed.

Lord, have mercy.

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16 thoughts on “Shiite Shenanigans”

  1. Regimes that begin with fanaticism tend to die by the third or fourth generation. The question is how long will the corpse walk?

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  2. One book I found very useful in understanding how things work in Iran and how they got that way is The Persian Night by Amir Tahiri (link is to my review from 2010).  My key take-away is that the internal structure of Iran and hence its policy-making is organised much along the same lines as Nazi Germany, where the revolutionary theocracy corresponds to the Nazi party and the government and military to those institutions in Germany.  Hitler had set up parallel structures in the party and government at almost every level and played each off against the other to concentrate decision-making at the top, as only he and his inner circle could resolve the inevitable conflicts.  Here are the two paragraphs of my review describing this.

    Iran is often described as a theocracy, but apart from the fact that the all-powerful Supreme Guide is nominally a religious figure, the organisation of the government and distribution of power are very much along the lines of a fascist state. In fact, there is almost a perfect parallel between the institutions of Nazi Germany and those of Iran. In Germany, Hitler created duplicate party and state centres of power throughout the government and economy and arranged them in such a way as to ensure that decisions could not be made without his personal adjudication of turf battles between the two. In Iran, there are the revolutionary institutions and those of the state, operating side by side, often with conflicting agendas, with only the Supreme Guide empowered to resolve disputes. Just as Hitler set up the SS as an armed counterpoise to the Wehrmacht, Khomeini created the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as the revolution’s independent armed branch to parallel the state’s armed forces.

    Thus, the author stresses, in dealing with Iran, it is essential to be sure whether you’re engaging the revolution or the nation state: over the history of the Islamic Republic, power has shifted back and forth between the two sets of institutions, and with it Iran’s interaction with other players on the world stage. Iran as a nation state generally strives to become a regional superpower: in effect, re-establishing the Persian Empire from the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea through vassal regimes. To that end it seeks weapons, allies, and economic influence in a fairly conventional manner. Iran the Islamic revolutionary movement, on the other hand, works to establish global Islamic rule and the return of the Twelfth Imam: an Islamic Second Coming which Khomeini’s acolytes fervently believe is imminent. Because they brook no deviation from their creed, they consider Sunni Moslems, even the strict Wahabi sect of Saudi Arabia, as enemies which must be compelled to submit to Khomeini’s brand of Islam.

    I then go on to conclude,

    Iran’s troubled relationship with the United States cannot be understood without grasping the distinction between state and revolution. To the revolution, the U.S. is the Great Satan spewing foul corruption around the world, which good Muslims should curse, chanting “death to America” before every sura of the Koran. Iran the nation state, on the other hand, only wants Washington to stay out of its way as it becomes a regional power which, after all, was pretty much the state of affairs under the Shah, with the U.S. his predominant arms supplier. But the U.S. could never adopt such a strategy as long as the revolution has a hand in policy, nor will Iran’s neighbours, terrified of its regional ambitions, encourage the U.S. to keep their hands off.

    Many Western analysts, failing to grasp the parallel institutions in Iran, adopt something like the fantasy model dovish Sovietologists embraced during the Cold War: that there were “hard-liners” and “moderates” among the Soviet leadership and that they could do business with the latter.  Those labouring under the same delusion about Iran identify “conservatives” and “liberals” among the mullahs and presume the latter can be made to see reason.  Here for example, is Bill Clinton speaking at the World Economic Forum at Davos:

    Iran today is, in a sense, the only country where progressive ideas enjoy a vast constituency. It is there that the ideas I subscribe to are defended by a majority.

    Well, if you read that strictly, it may be true.  But is the purest fantasy to think that has anything to do with whether you can reason or deal with the religious fanatics who are pulling the strings.  In fact, it argues for promoting regime change which would leave the remaining institutions in place, as they are not unlike those of other developed nations with which the West has no major quarrels.

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  3. Joel Rosenberg trilogy is fiction that reflects what is going on in reality. The theme is much like MJ’s post. Very good reading.

    The Tehran Initiative is the first book of the three. Starts out back at the embassy crises back in 1980.

    Ends up with the final war in book 3. You have to read to see how final it is.

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  4. Incineration on Iran I’d the best course to keep America and the world safe. They are asking for it, literally. We are too weak to oblige.

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  5. Bryan G. Stephens:
    Incineration on Iran I’d the best course to keep America and the world safe. They are asking for it, literally. We are too weak to oblige.

    I agree with this point de vue completely but as flawed a man as the Shah was, at least women were going to school and there was a thriving economy.

    And women didn’t have to wear those absurd Halloween costumes that compromised their vitamin D intake and their peripheral vision. Any niqab who tried to cross a street in Tehran after the Ayatollah Khomeini took power risked her life.

    Hospitals were busy.

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  6. John Walker:
    Thus, the author stresses, in dealing with Iran, it is essential to be sure whether you’re engaging the revolution or the nation state: over the history of the Islamic Republic, power has shifted back and forth between the two sets of institutions, and with it Iran’s interaction with other players on the world stage.

    This is a really helpful insight.   I never read the book, but I did see a really good long-form review of that book; maybe it was yours, and this lesson has been really useful in interpreting events.

    I think Team Obama may have figured this out, but they were transforming America into a non-world powerless power, so it suited their interests to reward the Revolution.

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  7. I heard NPR’s long interview today with a former State Department diplomat who was droning on about diplomatic engagement.   But yesterday’s article in the New York Times said that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had rebuffed a message from President Trump.   They quoted this from Iranian media:

    “I do not see Trump as worthy of any message exchange, and I do not have any reply for him, now or in the future,” Mr.  Khamenei said.

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  8. MJBubba:
    First, convince them that now is not the time for that eagerly-sought Final War. That a war at this time would not be the eschatological end-times war, but a war that would bring the wrath of the West down on their heads and only set their cause back by a century or three. They would need to be convinced that the war that would come would be far more deadly and destructive than the wars they have observed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    President Trump needs to be able to warn them that his potential threat is deadly serious and that death and destruction might rain down on them from the sky.

    But there is no credible threat from America so long as the Anti-American Party controls the House of Representatives.   Democrats are trying to remove nuclear missiles from American submarines as part of the Defense budget.   Stupid stuff from our own side hamper our ability to maintain a credible deterrent.

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  9. Can we at least have a Congressional declaration before the US does something too stupid for words? I mean just once can the jingoistic please play by the rules they always claim to be “supporting and defending”?

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  10. Robert A. McReynolds:
    stupid

    How about the editorial from Leftist USA Today?   Here is their conclusion:

    If the United States and other countries present solid evidence of Iran’s malign behavior it could deter future such attacks. Exposing Tehran’s culpability before the international community would also help justify counter-strikes should Iran continue this harassment campaign. President Reagan said over 30 years ago that he wanted to “make sure the Iranians have no illusions about the cost of irresponsible behavior.”

    Maybe they need a reminder.

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  11. MJBubba:

    Robert A. McReynolds:
    stupid

    How about the editorial from Leftist USA Today?   Here is their conclusion:

    If the United States and other countries present solid evidence of Iran’s malign behavior it could deter future such attacks. Exposing Tehran’s culpability before the international community would also help justify counter-strikes should Iran continue this harassment campaign. President Reagan said over 30 years ago that he wanted to “make sure the Iranians have no illusions about the cost of irresponsible behavior.”

    Maybe they need a reminder.

    Agree completely. Who would not?

    Robert A. McReynolds:
    Can we at least have a Congressional declaration before the US does something too stupid for words? I mean just once can the jingoistic please play by the rules they always claim to be “supporting and defending”?

    I like extreme and even better, belligerent especially because it works. See: Adolf Hitler. He was evil and obviously a sociopath but why allow his actions to define the word and not the SEALS?

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  12. EThompson:

    MJBubba:

    Robert A. McReynolds:
    stupid

    How about the editorial from Leftist USA Today?   Here is their conclusion:

    If the United States and other countries present solid evidence of Iran’s malign behavior it could deter future such attacks. Exposing Tehran’s culpability before the international community would also help justify counter-strikes should Iran continue this harassment campaign. President Reagan said over 30 years ago that he wanted to “make sure the Iranians have no illusions about the cost of irresponsible behavior.”

    Maybe they need a reminder.

    Agree completely. Who would not?

    Robert A. McReynolds:
    Can we at least have a Congressional declaration before the US does something too stupid for words? I mean just once can the jingoistic please play by the rules they always claim to be “supporting and defending”?

    I like extreme and even better, belligerent especially because it works. See: Adolf Hitler. He was evil and obviously a sociopath but why allow his actions to define the word and not the SEALS?

    Again just do it according to the document you both claim to support.

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  13. I was pondering what a measured response would be.

    What if we sent a couple of our killer subs into the straight. Then have them locate the Iranian subs and sink them. Then quietly leave. Then take no credit and feign ignorance of the incident.

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  14. Kevin Schulte:
    I was pondering what a measured response would be.

    What if we sent a couple of our killer subs into the straight. Then have them locate the Iranian subs and sink them. Then quietly leave. Then take no credit and feign ignorance of the incident.

    Their boats mostly spend time in the port because of maintenance and incompetent seamanship.

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