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Iran and Armageddon
Posted by: McQ on Friday, January 06, 2006

As Jon resonably points out in his post about Iran, crazy is indeed a strategy. And it can be leveraged diplomatically if you play your cards right.

But sometimes, crazy is just crazy. And when that is the case, trying to make rational assumptions about an irrational person is, at best, scientific wild-assed guessing.

I'm frankly convinced that Iran has the second problem as it pertains to their new president instead of the first. I think the man is a religious nut. And that makes this a horse of a different color.

Let me point out my reason for such a belief. Last December the Christian Science Monitor had an article about Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was entitled "Waiting for the Rapture in Iran", and it was a very detailed look at a fanatic's fanatic in terms of religion.

We need to understand that although rational people would believe that "careless calculators don't generally make it to the top of totalitarian autocracies" as Jon asserted, this totalitarian autocracy is a theocracy. So certain flavors of "careless calculators" have a better chance at rising to the top than do others. I'm of the opinion that Ahmadinejad is one of the exceptions to the rule.

Let's review some of the man's recent activities as an indicator of my point:
  • He called for the destruction of Israel by saying it should be wiped from the map.
  • He's denied the Holocaust.
  • He's taken an extremely hard line on Iran's quest for nuclear power (weapons).
So, you ask, why the change from Mohammad Khatami, the former president of Iran, and his "dialogue of civilizations" and the presumed return of Iran to the international fold to the present arrogant and confrontational style of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

His religious beliefs.

Ahamadinejad believes we're in the 'end times' and that the Mahidi (or savior, especially to the Shia sect of Islam) is near.
The Mahdi (Also transliterated as: Mehdi or Mihdi; translated as: guided one), in Islamic eschatology, is the prophesied redeemer of Islam, who will change the world into a perfect society before Yaum al-Qiyamah (the "Day of Resurrection" or the end times).
If you believe we're in the end times, and you believe you're on the right side of it all, why bother with diplomacy or compromise?
"This kind of mentality makes you very strong," says Amir Mohebian, political editor of the conservative Resalat newspaper.

[...]

"If you think these are the last days of the world, and Jesus will come [again], this idea will change all your relations," says Mohebian. "If I think the Mahdi will come in two, three, or four years, why should I be soft? Now is the time to stand strong, to be hard."
Indeed. Other indicators of his belief in the coming of the Mahadi?
The Mahdi's eventual return is an article of faith for Shiite Muslims that taps deeply into Persian consciousness and mystical tradition. Signs began to appear in Tehran three years ago, announcing that "He's Coming." But only a portion of Iranians actively prepare for that moment.

Part of the tradition holds that the Jamkaran mosque was ordered built by the Mahdi himself, during a dream revealed to a "righteous man" some 1,000 years ago. It is here that believers are closest to the Mahdi. Written prayers dropped into the adjacent well (which, local guides point out has no religious basis) are thought by pilgrims to be divinely answered.

Officials deny rumors that Ahmadinejad, as mayor last year, secretly tasked the Tehran City Council with reconfiguring the capital to prepare a suitable route for the Mahdi's return. They also deny that a list of Ahmadinejad's new cabinet members has been dropped into the well - a superstition that even Ayatollah Khomeini, the father of Iran's revolution, refused to associate with.

[...]

Still, an early cabinet decision earmarked $17 million for Jamkaran. And there is talk of building a direct train link from Tehran to the elegant blue-tiled mosque, which lies 65 miles south of the capital, east of the Shiite religious center of Qom.
So do you earmark money for building a road and plan to reconfigure the city of Tehran for the arrival of the Mahadi if you believe he's not coming soon? I'd guess no.
From redressing the gulf between rich and poor in Iran, to challenging the United States and Israel and enhancing Iran's power with nuclear programs, every issue is designed to lay the foundation for the Mahdi's return.
That takes us back to the newpaper editor's point about how this sort of belief would be reflected in the change in Iran's position in relation to the rest of the world. It also has to do with how, given his belief, Ahmadinejad interprets his role in all of this:
Any possibility of détente with the US may also be in jeopardy, if the US-Iran conflict is cast in Mahdaviat terms. That view holds that the US - with quasireligious declarations of transforming the Middle East with democracy and justice, deploying military forces across the region, and developing a new generation of nuclear weapons - is arrogantly trying to assume the role of Mahdi.

A top priority of Ahmadinejad is "to challenge America, which is trying to impose itself as the final salvation of the human being, and insert its unjust state [in the region]," says Mr. Taraghi.

Taraghi says the US is "trying to place itself as the new Mahdi." This may mean no peace with Iran, he adds, "unless America changes its hegemonic ... thinking, doesn't use nuclear weapons, [or] impose its will on other nations."
That's part one. Part two has to do with Iran's role:
That mind-set also hearkens back to the missionary ambition of the newly forged Islamic Republic. "What Ahmadinejad believes is that we have to create a model state based on ... Islamic democracy - to be given to the world," says Hamidreza Taraghi, head of the conservative Islamic Coalition Society. "The ... government accepts this role for themselves."
And what better way to do that than with nuclear arms in your arsenal? Consider this report from the German media:
Iran has bought 18 BM-25 missiles from North Korea which the Islamic Republic wants to transform to extend their range, the German press reported Dec. 16. ”Iran has bought 18 disassembled BM-25 missiles from North Korea with a range of 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles),” Bild newspaper said, citing a report from the German secret services.

It added that Iran’s ultra conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to have the range of the missiles “extended to 3,500 kilometers”. The newspaper said that until now Iran only had Shehab-3 missiles with a range of 1,300 kilometers.

It further cited the secret service report as warning that “with a longer range, and the probability that (Tehran) would try to equip the missiles with nuclear warheads, there is the risk that Iran could strike at Israel and parts of central Europe.” It added that according to the German intelligence services, Iranian experts were already working on fitting the missiles with nuclear warheads.
If you can at least neutralize the nuclear retaliatory threat of the US and others (say by threatening central Europe with a nuclear strike), you can engage in some pretty drastic regional troublemaking. And if your goal is to "give the world" what Iran calls "Islamic democracy", then you recognize some risks must be taken and, if you think the Mahadi is close at hand, you might just be inclined to take those risks.

After all, religiously speaking, what have you to lose?
But few doubt the sincerity of Ahmadinejad's belief. Some point to his seemingly impossible prediction of electoral success, three months before the June vote.

"You will see, on the day of the election, I will be the winner - I have no doubt about it," says political editor Mohebian, quoting those who heard the remarks. "People change, and we can calculate [politically] why he won. But this [gives a] kind of self-confidence," he says. "Mr. Ahmadinejad thinks he has a mission."
And men on missions are the most dangerous. Irrational men are even more dangerous, especially if they have nuclear weapons.
 
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As I said in Jon’s thread, I’m willing to believe that Ahmadinejad is really crazy. But it’s important to note that he wasn’t who the mullahs wanted to win. They wanted Rafsanjani, and when he lost they immediately appointed Rafsanjani to the head of the Expediency Discernment Council and took steps to weaken the power of the presidency relative to the council. I think Ahmadinejad is mostly a distraction; Rafsanjani and Khameni are where the real power is.
 
Written By: Matt McIntosh
URL: http://conjecturesandrefutations.net
There are some religious aspects of this that threaten Ahmadinejad’s position (and the article delves into those, but they’re more of a possibility than a probablility).

You may be right, but at the moment he’s the one driving the "let’s get nukes" train. And, as pointed out, he has a mission in mind. It doesn’t take much of a leap to see how nukes and his mission could go hand-in-hand. OTOH, as you point out, maybe at that point, the powers behind the throne will step forward and do something.

But, as history has shown us, it only takes a couple of changes in the way things are run to throw the power in a nation to a different person. I’m not sure he could do that or even understands how to do that, but given his position we’re left in the position (as is Israel) of asking "can we afford to take that chance?"+
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Hell, as is most of the rest of the world.(shake of the head)

In the end, we’re like Doctors who can’t identify the illness... you end up treating the symptoms, keeping in mind that often times, looks ain’t deceiving.
And I suppose that’s the situation, here.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Well, I think crazy is a bit off- he has a vision, and a means to achieve it. His explanation and justification is a bit ’unorthodox’, but not crazy.

We’ve tried to keep our secular vision of this conflict on top, insisting to all ’it’s not a religious war’- too bad about all that. It looks like it won’t be too much longer before the world sees what a religious war is all about.
 
Written By: Sunguh
URL: http://pmclassic.blogspot.com
Well, I think crazy is a bit off- he has a vision, and a means to achieve it.

I’ve always looked at crazy as a good description of someone who’s irrational (whether a permanent or temporary condition). We’ve all been a little ’crazy’ at times because we all have acted irrationally at one time or another.

Given that definition, I see his thinking as based in irrationality and it is driving his actions (which, on the whole are irrational), and thus I can’t help the label ’crazy’.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
I’m inclined to quibble a bit over the definition of "crazy" — I find his premises and conclusion irrational, but if one assumes his premises, then his conclusions (and methods) are not irrational at all — but I’m not sure that the picture painted in your post necessarily differs from what I wrote. Trying to provoke an Israeli response in order to attack Israel and unite the Muslim world would fit perfectly with a Mahdi Complex.

If pressed, I’d also add that I suspect national leaders tend to be somewhat less religious than the rhetoric would belie; to rise to that level, one needs a mix of pious and ruthless. Saddam Hussein did just that in the 90s. My guess — and it’s only a guess — is that the Iranian President will use other peoples devotion to further Iranian ends, but won’t go so far as to offer himself, the Iranian Mullahs and all of Iran up for a nuclear sacrifice. But that’s for another time.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
McQ:

Well put... he’s crazy.

So why is the world dealing with him as if he was rational?

A big problem for the civilized world is their (our?) continued failure to recognize true craziness and deal with it as it must be dealt with.

It’s critical to stop acting as if this guy is sane, and that all we have to do is really let him know that we disapprove of what he is doing.

So, no taking Iran before the UN Security Council for censure, as Rice (and presumably, Bush) wants to do. No trying to impose sanctions, as someone that crazy (and rich) would never let sanctions deter him from his mission. No hoping the swell of democratic reform will sweep them from office (how many crazies have ever voluntarily given up power?). No waiting for the crazies of the world to further their plans.

The sad fact is that we need to use our military to do whatever possible we can to thwart Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. And Sharon’s stroke is going to keep Israel from doing what Bush is afraid/unwilling to do.

Even if our attempts are not 100% successful, the time we buy might be sufficient for God to turn his attention from Ariel Sharon and start to focus on the crazies running Iran.
 
Written By: steve sturm
URL: http://thoughtsonline.blogspot.com/
I would love to see some of Ahmadinejad’s quotes about Jews printed next to Hitler’s comments about Jews. Maybe then people would start to treat this man different. Imagine Hitler with "the bomb".
 
Written By: Johnny Griswold
URL: http://
Keep in mind he’s only one man. If he orders a first strike, will his orders be followed? Would he have to get a fatwa first? Who or waht organization actually would physically control the nukes and fire them?

That said, I prefer the libertine ways of Kim Jong-Il as opposed to this nutjob...



 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Keep in mind he’s only one man. If he orders a first strike, will his orders be followed? Would he have to get a fatwa first? Who or waht organization actually would physically control the nukes and fire them?
If the nukes are theoretically to be used as a deterrent agianst Israelli/American/Pakistani attack they will need a very streamlined launch procedure. They will have very few minutes to launch a counterstrike before any aggressors suprise strike hits. If they do not launch in this time then they may not be able to launch at all. Likely he and one other person (probably supreme leader) says go and the launch starts as soon as possible.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
If you believe we’re in the end times, and you believe you’re on the right side of it all, why bother with diplomacy or compromise?
Interestingly, you can be quite rational when it comes to characterizing religious fanatics in other countries. Meanwhile, the Tim Lahaye readers in this country, who share this fanatical/uncompromising outlook, and who voted by the millions for Bush, are considered mainstream Republicans and good Americans. Go figure.

As for Iran, you are making the problem much more complicated than it actually is. And, not unrelatedly, you make a common error.

The error is failing to see the world through the eyes of our perceived enemy. Think about things from Iran’s perspective, for just one second. The western media is full of talk of how either Israel or the US or both are going to blow up Iran’s nuclear facilities. US and or NATO forces are on its eastern and western borders.

So what does Iran do? It engages in anti-Semitic bluster, uses religious imagery and language to characterize its enemy, and it buys bigger weapons. What would you expect Iran to do? It is simply attempting to project strength.

Straight out of the Reagan playbook.

Now before you go off on a half-cocked winger diatribe, I am not in any way excusing or condoning what Iran is doing. I am not making a normative observation. I am simply saying that Iran is doing exactly what one would expect Iran to do under the circumstances.

Americans tend to fall in love with the idea that the enemy is a fanatic, is crazy, and is not acting rationally. It is part de-humanization, part arrogance, and part xenophobia. But, for the most part, the enemy acts rationally in its own universe. Ironically, and contrary to your analysis, the Iranians are acting in a manner that to their minds insures their preservation. They are projecting strength. They are scapegoating. They are arming themselves.

It seems crazy to you because you are viewing it from your persepctive. But if the Iranians are crazy, they are no more crazy than the Tim Lahaye fans. And they voted for George Bush, so they cannot be crazy ....

On second thought, maybe you’re right.

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
But if the Iranians are crazy, they are no more crazy than the Tim Lahaye fans.
This statement characterizes MK’s thought process so well.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
If the nukes are theoretically to be used as a deterrent agianst Israelli/American/Pakistani attack they will need a very streamlined launch procedure. They will have very few minutes to launch a counterstrike before any aggressors suprise strike hits. If they do not launch in this time then they may not be able to launch at all. Likely he and one other person (probably supreme leader) says go and the launch starts as soon as possible.

That’s be true, but if he launches a first strike with the Sahab-3s on Israel and holds the BM25 as a threat to launch on Europe if there’s any retaliation, his procedure wouldn’t have to be that streamlined.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
But if the Iranians are crazy, they are no more crazy than the Tim Lahaye fans.

OK. Are the Tim Lahaye fans developing nukes and saying some country ought to be wiped from the earth?

Here we are again looking at you taking an extreme example (and, as usual, one that doesn’t fit and has nothing to do with the topic at hand) and generalizing.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
MK is right, though. From their perspective and under their value system, the Iranians are operating rationally. Their value system may be irrational to us, but that’s not particularly suprising — that’s why there’s a conflict in the first place.

The important thing is to figure out what premises, values and interests the Iranians have. From there, all their actions will appear rational.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
MK is right, though. From their perspective and under their value system, the Iranians are operating rationally.

Sorry, but that’s kind of a "well duh!"

It’s one of the reasons so many of us reject the premise of multiculturalism, i.e. that all culures have equal merit.

From there, all their actions will appear rational.

If the premise I’m operating under is that space aliens have spoken to me and told me to kill all the puppies in the world, it may seem rational to me, however it wouldn’t seem rational to the rest of the world.

It would seem "crazy".
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
It’s one of the reasons so many of us reject the premise of multiculturalism, i.e. that all culures have equal merit.
This has nothing to do with whether their culture has any "merit". It has everything to do with the predictability of the Iranian foreign policy paradigm and the question of whether Iranian calculations can be measured, guessed or calculated.

I find the premises of the Objectivist and Libertarian "Natural Law" every bit as meritless as I find the Iranian religious views, but it helps to understand the value system under which their proponents make their calculations. Whether Objectivists have "equal merit" is much less important than whether one can guage them correctly.

That was the entire point of this Iran thing. Surely you didn’t think I was arguing that Allah was the One True God and the Mahdi’s return was imminent?
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
This has nothing to do with whether their culture has any "merit".

That’s correct ... multiculturalism was simply an example of my point.

It has everything to do with the predictability of the Iranian foreign policy paradigm and the question of whether Iranian calculations can be measured, guessed or calculated.

Yes it does, which was the point of the post I wrote.

That was the entire point of this Iran thing. Surely you didn’t think I was arguing that Allah was the One True God and the Mahdi’s return was imminent?

Actually I have no idea what you were arguing since you seemed to go off on this tangent that even if the premise is irrational, the action may be rational if they believe the premise.

Sort of a statement of the obvious, wouldn’t you say?

That doesn’t change the fact that by any rational gauge, it’s irrational action. It’s the premise, not their subsequent action, which determines that.

And yes, that was the entire point of this Iran thing, and the entire reason I wrote the post.

It is critical to know from what premise Iran’s president is operating, whether rational or irrational, so you can gauge your response accordingly. Obviously if he seems irrational in his beliefs, you take a different tack than if he exhibits the characteristics of rational thought (and following rational premises).

How "Tim Lahaye" is relevant, other than a convenient vehicle to divert attention from that point and again take a shot at the right is beyond me. All religions have this sort (again a statement of the obvious). But Lahaye writes books while Ahmadinejad is building nukes with which to arm long-range missiles.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Every twelve years or so the Seventh Day Adventists, or some other-such sect, proclaim a "Coming." The avid believers, sensing their inevitable calling to Heaven, sell anything of worth, like their mutual funds or Grandma’s heirlooms, to split the wealth between the tithing bowl and living high on the hog for the short remainder of their earthly existence.

But - oops, when the day of judgement comes and passes, the sun rises, and the property taxes and electricity bill are still due, these avid find their finances bankrupted and their faith diminished.

If Iran’s leaders want to lead their followers to this mahdi, they will only bankrupt their own faith and nation.
-Steve

 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
I wouldn’t be so sure on that, Steve. If we assume your description of the matter, they’ve been through this cycle a few hundred times by the time he got around to writing about it, and glibly predicting their bankruptcy.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
If Iran’s leaders want to lead their followers to this mahdi, they will only bankrupt their own faith and nation.

Well, yeah, unless he chooses to act in anticipation of the return of the mahadi by wiping Israel off the map.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
if he launches a first strike with the Sahab-3s on Israel...

Then it requires complex planning, his commands are routed through more people, some of whom are less crazy and it is less of a concern. But Shehab-3s are vulnerable to Israels ABM systems, only some would get through and Israel would retaliate.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Then it requires complex planning, his commands are routed through more people, some of whom are less crazy and it is less of a concern. But Shehab-3s are vulnerable to Israels ABM systems, only some would get through and Israel would retaliate.

Yes, maybe (the Arrow hasn’t been that impressive in testing as I recal), if they survive.

Of course Iran has just purchased the Russian TOR M1 anit-missile system as well.

If he launches on Israel and survives the exchange (somewhere I heard Israel had 5 submarines capable of launching nukes), those that are less crazy than him may not have much of a choice about threatening central Europe if they want to see Iran survive.

But I understand your point and certainly hope somewhere along the line someone says "no". But then we don’t know what he’s doing behind the scenes to consolidate his power either (like Chavez has done in Venezuela by purging the army and removing congressional oversight).
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Maybe Iran is rational in wanting their own to defend against the Zionists
Is Israel making public threats to "wipe Iran off the map"? (No)

Is Israel supporting terrorist groups attacking Iran? (No)

Is Israel likely to nuke Iran preemptively? (No)

Is Iran likely to nuke Israel preemptively? (Yes)

Book, will you provide any evidence to the contrary? (No)

 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
That’s correct ... multiculturalism was simply an example of my point.
Ok, then it has nothing to do with whether their premise has any merit. Foreign policy is not conducted on the basis of whether we agree with their religion, national interests, or worldview.
Yes it does, which was the point of the post I wrote.
If your point was that Iranian foreign policy ought to be seen through the prism of their particular religious worldview, I think there’s probably a lot to that argument. But my dispute is with the "crazy/irrational" thing. Operating consistently but from a false premise is not "crazy". Irrational would be if he made no predictable calculations and was willing to conduct foreign policy on a whim. That would be exceedingly hard to oppose, because we’d never be able to calculate just how far we can push him, how much we have to give, etc.

But operating from a religious premise with which we disagree is not crazy. It might be wrong, but that’s neither here nor there. We are, obviously, not going to take the potential return of the Mahdi into account in our foreign policy — but we will account for the people who believe in it.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Um, Book, are you sure you want to use Ralph Schoenman and that website to argue your point? Additionally, since the book by Schoenman that is reproduced on that website was published in 1988, I’m not sure how it "provides any evidence to the contrary" about Israel’s intentions against Iran and vise versa.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Please offer a better explaination than what I have found so far
Well, if the owners of QandO wish to host a discussion about this topic, I’m sure several commenters (including myself) will offer detailed explanations. However, I vehemently disagree that violent revolution and a socialist Middle East is the answer as given by all three of your links.
we have already "loaned" Israel over $134 billion
And we have given even more money to the rest of the Middle East, although that includes everyone else combined. If you want to argue that we should cut back on our foreign aid, I think you’ll find quite a bit of agreement from many people around here.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Consider this: Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a deep undercover Mossad Stooge, he was groomed for a long time for this Mahdi Event, WW III, and he is fullfilling this Destiny.
 
Written By: Anar Chist
URL: http://
I HAVE BEEN STUDYING THE MAHADI STORY FOR A WHILE NOW...WATCH IRAN..THIS IS THE REAL DEAL COMING DOWN WITH ISREAL...IF YOU WANT TO SEE A PROPHESY UPDATE BY PERRY STONE...GO TO PERRYSTONE.ORG.....IT IS ABOUT THIS, NEW INFO...HIS BOOK ON INSIGHT TO 9-11 IS A GREAT STUDY ON THIS...I HOPE PEOPLE GET RIGHT WITH JESUS....NOW......AMEN
 
Written By: RON K
URL: http://
i am muslem and i see that this man is the last hope of muslims between all the muslem leaders ,that because he is the one who is awake and sees the truth ,he is smart to clean the map from jews and israelians because they also at the same time are killing us and targeting to finish us from the world but ia believe in el mahdi and all moslems do but few believe that the mahdi is near and i am one of those the last war is near and the revenge is near .in our hadith and quraan allah says that in the end times muslems will take revenge from all jews and all who kills us and our children ,the jews will hide behind trees and rocks from us and we will kill every one we find of them ,and all the signs of el mahdi coming have appeared and this mahdi will lead us the muslem army that will revenge from all israel and jews and americans and british and all who support israel..........i am egyptian i am 17 years old and i hope to be in the mahdi,s army
 
Written By: mahmoud el ersh
URL: http://
Perfect example of a religous nut. A person bred with hate with a vale of ignorance that will lead him to his departure not only from this world but from the kingdom of heaven.

Mohamad will be known in this life and the next as one of the biggest curses in history.
 
Written By: Flash
URL: http://

 
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