Khamenei Takes Control, Forbids Nuclear Bomb

Early returns in Iran’s 9th parliamentary election since the 1979 revolution show that Ahmadinejad’s lay populists have taken a drubbing, and that hard line supporters of clerical Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei are ascendant. Ahmadinejad’s sister, Parvin, who stood for election from their own hometown of Garmsar, was defeated, a major blow to the president.

Western reporters keep saying that the parliamentary results have no implication for Iran’s nuclear program. But they only say this because they either don’t pay attention to what Iranian leaders actually say, or discount their statements as lies (treating them much less respectfully than they treated notorious fraud Andrew Breitbart in their fluffy obituaries last week).

A week and a half ago, Khamenei gave a major foreign policy speech in which he said,

““The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.”

Now, you could maintain that Khamenei is lying when he says he holds that possessing nuclear weapons is a grave sin. (You could also maintain that the Popes are lying when they say using birth control is a grave matter, but you’d have to explain why they put their papal authority on the line for a lie they weren’t forced to utter). But even if you think it is a lie, you have at least to report what he says. I guarantee you that Khamenei’s speech opposing nukes was not so much as mentioned on any of the major American news broadcasts.

Khamenei has also repeatedly said that Iran has a ‘no first strike’ policy, that it will not fire the first shot in any conflict.

And if you hold that Khamenei, as a leading clerical authority, is being dishonest on this issue, then surely you should offer some proof. Perhaps he has flip-flopped over time? But no. Here is Khamenei in 2010:

““We have said repeatedly that our religious beliefs and principles prohibit such weapons as they are the symbol of destruction of generations. And for this reason we do not believe in weapons and atomic bombs and do not seek them.”

Or 2009, when Khamenei said,

“They (Western countries) falsely accuse the Islamic republic’s establishment of producing nuclear weapons. We fundamentally reject nuclear weapons and prohibit the use and production of nuclear weapons. This is because of our ideology, not because of politics or fear of arrogant powers or an onslaught of international propaganda. We stand firm for our ideology.”

I could go on providing the same sort of quotes going back years.

It seems to me that one implication of pro-Khamenei hard liners dominating parliament is that the Supreme Leader’s authority has been enhanced. And he is deploying his authority to forbid the acquisition of a nuclear warhead.

Warmongers attempting to drag the United States into yet another ruinous (or, rather, infinitely more ruinous) war in the Middle East have typically focused their propaganda on the person of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The president, now nearing the end of his second and last term, is easy to ridicule and easy to demonize, because of his quirky personality and colorful gaffes. He has been called a “Hitler” by Rick Santorum, and the Neoconservatives depict him as a madman bent on bringing the world to an end. (Ahmadinejad, unlike most establishment Shiite clerics, thinks that the Muslim promised one or Mahdi will come soon, and this millenarian belief has been taken advantage of by Neocons, who inaccurately allege that the belief could push the president to support apocalyptic policies.) It has been alleged that Ahmadinejad is a mass-murdering hard liner, seeking nuclear weapons with which to destroy Israel.

This puzzling emphasis on Ahmadinejad comes despite the president’s relative lack of power in the Iranian system. The commander in chief of the armed forces is Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Who sets nuclear policy? Ali Khamenei. In Iran, the “president” is more like a vice president (think Joe Biden) than a real executive.

Ahmadinejad could not even fire an intelligence minister (Haidar Moslehi) he disliked last spring. Khamenei reinstated him. Ahmadinejad sulked and wouldn’t attend cabinet meetings for a while, but eventually got over himself. Hitler indeed.

Just last month, even the old parliament voted to make Ahmadinejad appear before the legislature to explain his economic policies, the first time a president has been interpellated by parliament in the Islamic Republic. Some in parliament have even spoken of impeaching Ahmadinejad, which they’d be in a position to do after these elections.

So, to conclude: Ahmadinejad is not very much like Hitler. He can’t give an order to the Iranian military independently of Khamenei, who can over-rule him at will. He can’t make his own pick of cabinet ministers, and so can’t build up an independent power base. He has been threatened by parliament. His party lost the 2012 elections big time. His own sister couldn’t win a seat in their home town. He is a lame duck. So there is no point in demonizing him, or pretending he has an atomic bomb, or that he would be the one to deploy a bomb if Iran possessed one, which it does not.

For the Neoconservatives, the jig is up.

Khamenei’s hand has been significantly strengthened. And he has signalled to the Iranian people yet again that he won’t use that strength for belligerent purposes or to pursue a nuclear warhead, which the Iranian ayatollahs consider a tool of the devil– since you can’t deploy it without killing large numbers of civilian non-combatants.

That these developments can be commented on in Western media without Khamenei’s speech being mentioned or it being noted that he strongly opposes nukes is baffling.

77 Responses

  1. This ignore-ance of statements, facts and reason surrounding the “Iranian-threat” just goes to support those that claim the US’s occupation (or attempts) of the ME is another crusade. This 21st-century crusade has relied on demonizing Muslims and de-legitimizing Islamic institutions: mollifying any calls for dialogue, soothing the conscience of the judeo-christian populace as Muslims are starved and killed in large numbers, and denying any culpability for incensing these cultures.

    Unfortunately Khamenei’s “victory” here gives Israel all the more reason to attack Iran as “evil” Ahmadinejad fades and this voice that Juan highlights, a strong denial of nuclear weapons, gains dominance and Israel/Bibi fears that given time the bomb-propaganda might flounder.

  2. So, Juan, as American citizens, what can we do? In the face of a massive media blitz in the US from the theocratic fantasy wing of Israeli politics bent on intimidating our president into supporting their supremacy as the sole regional nuclear power by destroying a county whose leaders have on many occasions spoken against having or using nuclear weapons. The crazies running Israel these days would rather start a world war (that would surely and so obviously devastate and destroy their own country and the entire region) than admit that the country they live in coexists with others with no less equal rights to life and liberty…Oh, I forgot, their god gave them the right to behave this way, to eternity. Or so one of my Southern Republican friends continues to tell me.

    • I believe it has been said that, if the US did not have any enemies, it would have to invent one. There is something in the psyche of many Americans that means, in order to show how ‘good’ they are, they have to be putting someone else down and even taking violent action against those they regard as ‘evil’.

  3. Not only was Khamenei’s speech not covered by US networks, todays New York Times carried a major article about how AIPAC is pressing Obama for a more aggressive posture yet never mentioned the Khamenei policy.

    It’s not like the Iraq disaster happened in the dim, distant past and only old men in nursing homes remember the war. So how is it that the right wing war machine is able to gin up froth and folly for the second time in a decade and no one is shouting “The Emperor still doesn’t have any clothes!!!”

    • After watching Pres. Obama’s speech today at AIPAC it is safe to say he did NOT give them what they want. He referred to this “loose talk of war” counterproductive, only helping Iran with greater oil profits from rising oil prices.

  4. I don’t really see the point of any detailed discussions of the speeches of Iranian leaders with media stories like Is it time to attack Iran: link to csmonitor.com

    Content of these speeches is simply irrelevant now, Israelis and GOP do not listen to them. As for the dems, they are negotiating with themselves and with GOP as usual.

    Also, the question of international legality of attack on Iran looks strange to say the least. Any law should be based not just on bargaining between the sides, but on certain principles.

    But the only principle currently in play seems to be might is right, certainly not equality before the law in any sense, objectivity or sufficient evidence. One can call this revolutionary justice. So, you get what you are paying for.

  5. Thank you dear professor for your commitment to the truth, you are truly an asset to academia and political commentary in general.

    PS – Have very much enjoyed your papers on Shaykhism, especially The World as Text: Cosmologies of Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa’i

    Could you recommend some reading material specifically relating to the various sub-branches of the N’imatullahi Order? I’m particularly interested in the Khaneghah Maleknia Naseralishah and the Erfan Gonabadis.

  6. I generally agree with everything stated here. But as primary support for Iranian religious opposition to nuclear weapons, this paragraph made me pause:

    “…which the Iranian ayatollahs consider a tool of the devil– since you can’t deploy it without killing large numbers of civilian non-combatants…”

    There’s clearly some room to maneuver within this religious rationale considering Iran’s sponsorship of Hamas, a group that does target civilian non-combatants. The justification, of course, is that these civilians really aren’t non-combatants but rather occupiers and material supporters of their enemies. This same rationalization could be applied to the hypothetical target of a hypothetical Iranian WMD, couldn’t it?

    • And numerous angels dance on the heads of so many pins.

      The bit of language you quote is not that of Khameini, or any other effective Iranian voice, but commentary added by Prof. Cole, which of course people of a certain mindset will pick apart, Breitbartize and pass along as some part of NeoGospel.

      It does not appear that “the hated ayatollahs” are looking for “wiggle room” at all.

      • The commentary is, however, based on the professed reasoning of the Iranian clerical leadership, is it not?

        I was merely asking if there isn’t some rhetorical gap between stating nukes are anti-Islamic because they necessarily kill non-combatants (and I think Mr. Cole is relaying that this is, in fact, the Iranian clerical reasoning and not his own inference) and materially supporting militant groups that target non-combatants?

        • From the text of Khameini’s speeches, it would appear that the Iranian clerical view of nukes is that rejecting them is on a much broader basis than that they incinerate and irradiate more than “non-combatants.” It’s that bit about being the “symbol of destruction of generations.”

          There’s more than enough want of “justification” for supporting (or being) “militant groups that target non-combatants.” Consider the tender mercies of our New American Force, the CIA/Mercenarium, and of course the IDF, and so many others. And that’s not “tu quoque,” it’s the reason that cynical, vicious, selfish people, tiny fractions of the masses of land and people that get personified so casually and dishonestly by those same self-interested SOBs, keep getting away with killing and stealing and dominating…

  7. The Israelis and their allies in the West have invested so much time, money and effort into demonizing Ahmadinezhad that they are not willing to lose that asset to their propaganda machine. This is why they were very unhappy about the prospect of the election of a reformist and moderate candidate in 2009 presidential election. Shortly before the election, Ephraim Inbar, director of the Begin Sadat Center at Bar Ilan University, said: “Just because Moussavi is called a moderate or a reformist doesn’t mean he’s a nice guy. After all he was approved by the Islamic leadership. If we have Ahmadinejad, we know where we stand. If we have Moussavi we have a serpent with a nice image.”
    The then Mossad Chief Meir Dagan told a panel of Israeli lawmakers: “If the reformist candidate Mousavi had won, Israel would have had a more serious problem, because it would need to explain to the world the danger of the Iranian threat.”

  8. “That these developments can be commented on in Western media without Khamenei’s speech being mentioned or it being noted that he strongly opposes nukes is baffling.”

    Baffling, perhaps, but understandable and predictable given the level of pro-Israel influence over the Western press. Israel is far from a finished product, and its not a passive actor in the Middle East. After more than sixty years, we still don’t know for sure the extent of the geographic boundaries the Greater Israel movement pursues.

  9. This is important for the way it fills in gaps left by the limitations of the American media. And anything that helps slow and possibly stop the move to military action is welcome, indeed necessary. But the report itself fails to mention the Republican Guard. Are they equally under the strong control of the Supreme Leader (in fact as well as in principle)? To my non-expert eyes they appear to be very reactionary and destructive.

  10. “Sanctions have been in place since the victory of the Islamic Revolution while the nuclear issue is a matter of the past few years; therefore their (the West) real problem is with a nation that has decided to be independent.”

    Ayatollah Khamenei

  11. Isn’t it a shame how the MSM continues to orchestrate a belligerent message? Beyond the potential of an even worse disaster than Iraq is the immediate destabilizing effect on the economy that is brought about by the resultant higher gas prices.

  12. Perhaps, as you state, no major American news broadcast reported on Khamenei’s statement. (Are you sure about that? Have you monitored all of them?) Nevertheless, it has been brought up in various other fora.

    For instance, today (Sunday) on ABC’s “This Week,” Christiane Amanpour specifically brought up Khamenei’s statement that Iran would not pursue nuclear weapons because to do so would be a sin under Islam. She also mentioned that the Iranian Foreign Minister echoed Khamenei’s statement. So it is not as if there is a Western media conspiracy to suppress it.

    • That’s it, Bill? that’s the best you can do to “prove” that there’s no “Western media conspiracy” to sell a particularly noxious Narrative? “Falsus in unum, falsus in omnibus”?

      Old habits die hard.

      • Yes, Mr. McPhee, that Khamenei’s statement is discussed among the media does demonstrate that there is no “Western media conspiracy” to suppress it. If there were, it would not be discussed on such networks as ABC.

        I would only add that, as you apparently think there is a “Western media conspiracy” to suppress Khamenei’s statement (in spite of the example I gave), as one making the charge, I challenge you to “prove” the existence of a conspiracy.

        • Faint proffer, Mr. Bill, that one tiny parcel of talking headism on one network contradicts the pretty obvious fact that there is a Narrative, it is cast only in terms of “seriousness,” that it’s currently tuned to WAR-AGAIN, and there’s not enough text space here to “prove” the positive of the negative you so archly sidestep.

          On the other hand,

          link to realjournalism.net

          link to motherjones.com

          And for a little contrasting flavor, link to online.wsj.com

          And here’s what CBS News has to say on the subject (hint: nothing about Khameini’s views on the inherent evil of nuclear weapons, a view at odds with the fundamental faith tenets of our American Experienced Players): link to cbsnews.com

          Does what you read in the WSJ, the WaPo, the NYT, the Chicago Trib and other Mainstream Media, or on the Network News on whatever channel you happen to favor, or in the slyly warped “reporting” of the various NPR segments since the Bush-Leaguers and the Heritage Foundationers took power, jibe with your worldview and understanding of the great Manichaean Endgame?

      • You wasted an inordinate amount of verbiage to camouflage your inability to substantiate your claim that there is a “Western media conspiracy” to suppress Khamenei’s statements, Mr. McPhee. The term “conspiracy” has a very precise definition, and to toss it around (as you did) with little regard for precision, resulted in your being hoisted by your own verbal petard. I understand why you want to shift the conversation from “conspiracy” to “narrative.” Nice try.

  13. [...] La derrota de Ahmadineyad, no muy sorprendente, deja claro lo que valen muchos de los análisis sobre Irán que aparecen en la prensa norteamericana que lo presentan como un dictador con capacidad para imponer decisiones sobre política exterior y defensa. La realidad es que Ahmadineyad es sólo un subalterno de Jamenei en estos asuntos, y eso incluye al programa nuclear. [...]

    • Tiene razon. El jefe supremo de Iran es (y simpre ha sido) Jamenei. Su autoridad incluye sobre la Guardia Revolucionario tambien.

  14. Interesting and enlightening, as always.

    Seems to me the thing about nukes is that they are weapons of the “elite.” If you want to invade or drone-slap somebody, you have to have a huge establishment of contractors, communications, and logistics in place to even get the grunts and Hellfires and other exotica and their horseless carriages within range. There are a whole lot of ordinary people who are our Troops, who have this disconcerting trick of pseudo-patrolling, and declining orders to attack, and then squealing on the Brass-Asses who send them out to do Stupid. (And of course, also, because they are human, peeing on dead “insurgents.”)

    But the Nuke thing is all about the Football, the SIOP, link to en.wikipedia.org , the War Collegiate Big Men on Campus who drive all that Doctrine, and people like Curtis LeMay and his successors, and of course in France de Gall (sic), in N. Korea Kim Ate Dung, and in Israel and Old South Africa, a series of obscure actors. All of whom were about taking charge of the future of their polities and of the species, subject to various faith-based initiatives and personally profitable behaviors.

    There’s a reason all those action movies, “Broken Arrow,” “Thunderball,” “Seven Days in May,” “War Games” and the like, have such horrific attraction — we like to be scared, but we like to think that some Hero will avert the catastrophe at the last possible moment. Freddy Krueger and Jason killed, finally, dead, never to return in yet another nonsensical se-pre-quel.

    Yes, there are many people involved in bringing deliverable nukes on line, and getting them on target. A bunch of carefully vetted, heavily indoctrinated Slim Pickens types, including the Rapture-Awaiting Armageddonists who work the Pantex plant in Amarillo. link to nytimes.com (Reagan featured up front here, the guy who allegedly thought you could recall the missiles, once launched, and joked on a maybe accidentally live mike about letting them fly.) Not nearly as many people as launching Shock&Awe, and the whole thing is, thanks to “rational, logical” human idiocy and Game Theory, on a hair trigger held by a very small Elite, whose driving emotions and doctrines have not a goddam thing to do with the General Welfare.

    Khameini may not be what our Policy People think of as a Good Native, but if one takes him at his word (trusted, maybe, but verified of course) he is one heck of a lot less likely to bring us a Nukular Winter (to counteract the Great Global Warming, maybe?) or that Dead End Full Stop War of All Against All.

  15. and, in the USA: (2010) from “Foreign Policy in Focus”

    “On February 1, the Obama administration delivered a budget request calling for a full 10 percent increase in nuclear weapons spending next year, to be followed by further increases in subsequent years.

    These increases, if enacted, would bring the recent six-year period of flat and declining nuclear weapons budgets to an abrupt end. Not since 2005 has Congress approved such a large nuclear weapons budget. Seeing Obama’s request Linton Brooks, who ran the National Nuclear Security Administration for President Bush from 2003 to 2007, remarked to Nuclear Weapons and Materials Monitor, “I would’ve killed for this kind of budget.”

    Obama’s request includes more than twice last year’s funding for a $5 billion upgrade to plutonium warhead core (“pit”) production facilities at Los Alamos. If the budget request passes intact, Los Alamos would see a 22 percent budget increase in a single year, its biggest since the Manhattan Project.

    The request proposes major upgrades to certain bombs as well as the design, and ultimately production, of a new ballistic missile warhead. Warhead programs are increased almost across the board, with the notable exception of dismantlement, which is set to decline dramatically.”

    link to fpif.org

  16. The thought of a group of fundamentalist end-timers with access to nuclear weapons terrifies me.

    But enough about the GOP.

  17. Anyone who dresses the way Ahmadinejad does must be some sort of existential threat. Of course I always thought an existential threat was a threat with a Gauloise hanging out of the corner of its mouth.

  18. Excellent analysis, but I have one caveat. We should not forget that is not only “neoconservatives” who are pushing this agenda, but so-called “liberal” hawks.

  19. The indirect evidence is very strong. The major American Media networks work very closely with the worst elements of our “secret government,” to choose to highlight certain aspects of the news (especially to present negative stories against chosen enemies, such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq under Saddam), and to avoid ever mentioning American open government and secret government activities in places like Angola, Congo, Honduras, etc., or the fact that all American telephone calls and internet activity (based on phone lines) are still being monitored by the NSA.

  20. Israel and the Christian Zionists in the US are frightened of Iran’s conventional weapons and increasing economic and military power, and are desperate for any excuse to attack Iran. Unlike Israel, the US and several EU countries, Iran has not been in the habit of attacking anybody, actually.

  21. Excellent article. It has been known by anyone who bothered to enquire that the Supreme authority in matters of foreign policy was Khamenei, but the Zionist media chose never to mention these speeches, and misconstrued the Iranian President’s words to pretend Israel, and even the USA, was in mortal danger.

  22. The similarities between Iran’s game playing and and Hussein’s Iraq could lead to the same, if not more disastrous results for Iran and the Middle East. Is Iran such a monolith, staunchly behind the clerics, that rouge elements couldn’t work at cross purposes against Khamenei, such as the bumbling assassination plan against the Saudi ambassador, purportedly funded by the Quds Force, or a leader therein (in the US Charley Wilsons back door war comes to mind in working against policy)?

    • And there in a nutshell is the sickness that is at the heart of the Great Game, and the unfortunate reality that even though we are all in this fine mess together, a few of us will kill all of us just to gain some momentary pleasure or win some stupid point.

      There is no monad, no entity, honestly identifiable as “Iran,” (or “America,” for that matter) but the Really Smart Experienced Players get to act as if it’s so, along with all their sycophants and profiteers and True Believers… As they force all the rest of us to live with the RISK ™ they are happy to impose on the rest of us who fund their obnoxiosities.

  23. Well done, Juan Cole! You are a man after my own heart, and I am not a leftie, either, just a former British diplomat lecturing at the Greek State University of the Ionian,currently being destroyed by a banking cleptocracy. I live in Athens.Do visit me on You Tube and my blog, hombre. Thank goodness that we still have some people with guts!

  24. Instead of Hitler analogies, Ahmadinejad should be called Santourm, and Santourm should be called Ahmadinejad.

  25. Anyone who might enjoy a thought provoking book on Iran should read Robert Baer’s “The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower”

  26. The New York Times keeps a running record of different issues with “Times Topics” and one subject they track is Khamanei, staying right up to date (last entry is yesterday). There is no mention of the speech you highlight.

    I then used Google News to search for Khamenei’s speech. I found it mentioned in the Asia Times, The Voice of Russia (radio) and an online newspaper about Iran called Payvand created by folks in Silicon Valley.

    Incredible! Someone should start a website called “What’s Missing” that would do nothing but publicize what is avoided by the US media. Alison Weir had come close to doing this on her “If Americans Knew” site.

  27. What an incredible opportunity for Obama to prove he does not need a spinal implant. Putting, Israel, AIPAC, and the left and right neocons on notice that the US will not support or condone an attack on Iran, and that such an attack will have consequences for the attacker, he will earn the respect and admiration of Arab (oil) world, and the American people(if he uses his speech skills to present the facts Prof Cole has laid out here).

    The people who hate him will still hate him regardless what he does. But to unloose the conflagration and blood vengeance that an Iran attack will bequeath to the world, will mark him as miserably failed leader.

    If you look in the wake of of our recent military adventures, you’ll see basket cases bobbing up and down as far as the eye can see: Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, and last but not least, Libya (granted, formative stages). There is more than ample evidence that the people in charge have nothing but a “did not finish” track record. But they all set to start the next race.

    And the crowning action for Obama will be to go to Iran and have an eye-to-eye with Khamenei.

  28. Professor, Gentlemen, Ladies, all here is a convincing counter to the loonies, the vested interests, and the media, the challenge is to get the message out so that The President is not alone in dealing with the intense Israeli pressure in this coming week to support what would be another ME catastrophe.

  29. a simplistic analysis which ignores the fact that world leaders, including religious ones, do in fact change their minds.

    for an example, see the repeated and vehement claims by Khomeini to not stop the Iran-Iraq war until Iraq was conquered completely.

    of course, Khomeini changed his mind and ordered a cease-fire and an end to the war

    • Of course, I’m only supposed to believe him when he says something that justifies us attacking Iran…..

      • it would be asinine to take whatever any world leader says at face value and to be the final word

        to take a comment, no matter how strident, and then to project that into the future is just idiotic

        look at Hamas, how many people would have thought they would turn back on their long term ally in Syria?

        the world is fluid and dynamic, only the naive pretend otherwise

        • Well said, Kathleen. The fact that the world is ‘fluid and dynamic’ is exactly what conservative politicians do not want the American people to consider. They want people to see world dynamics as static and fixed. Israel is always right, but Israel, by opposing peace, is its own existential threat. Hamas will never change, even as Hamas changes before our eyes. The dynamics, not the word choices, determine reality.

    • Iran was attacked by Iraq, like the US was attacked by Japan. So conquering Iraq was to some extent vengeance driven, kinda like Hiroshima/Nagasaki on our part.

      Of course Khomeini might also have had second thoughts when the US started to help the savage brute who started it all, Saddam Hussein.

      It is comforting to know that in our country a “flip-flopper” would never aspire to high office.

    • Speaking of simplistic analysis…

      And how strange that the exemplar you chose was a determination to STOP the bleeding and destruction…

  30. Its very hard to believe that the US really views any other country as a military threat and yet here we seem to be ,again, moving inexorably towards ANOTHER war. Why?
    Could it be that the real threat , the real reason for demonizing, perusing and fighting that ‘other’ is just a diversion – to unite and draw attention away from the real threat ..the one within your own borders and not so easily ‘fixed’ with precision guided weapons??

    • Janine, not enough people have mentioned Netanyahu’s need for a diversion from the massive street protests against his party’s agenda to polarize wealth to the 1%. Those protests are perhaps the greatest threat ever to the basic source of Zionist legitimacy: that the leaders give a damn about the well-being of ordinary Jews to the ruthless exclusion of everyone else.

  31. Ahmadinejad is doing what he does best: pushing Israel’s buttons. That has been useful in that it has provoked a rise out of Israel that exposes Israeli irrationality. Only problem is it’s risky. Given Bibi’s highly refined strategies of manipulation, a provoked Israel can always get a rise out of Washington, which has resulted in “crippling sanctions” against the Iranian people, sanctions which are all too reminiscent of the sanctions against Saddam’s Iraq resulting in the death of half a million children, which Albreit found “worth it.” In sum, Ahmadinejad is good at getting both Israel and US to expose their dangerous idiocy, but he has paid a price for it.

  32. Are we moving again inexorably toward ANOTHER war, Janine? President Obama is attempting to convince Israel NOT to attack Iran. And just a couple of weeks ago, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff counseled that Iran was acting rationally, and we should allow sanctions to continue.

    Doesn’t sound like war-talk to me, Janine. Or have you got much more reliable sources that have given you inside info that the rest of us don’t have?

    • And all the Republican Presidential contenders bar one have said that they will support an attack on Iran. How much more of a “reliable source” do you need !

      • “And all the Republican Presidential contenders bar one have said that they will support an attack on Iran. How much more of a “reliable source” do you need !”

        President Obama and his administration are office and in charge, Alec, not the Republican Presidential contenders. Your statement is a non-sequitur.

  33. How can our politicians accept that Islamic leaders are opposed to weapons of mass destruction, when our Catholic politicians refuse to accept that the Papacy has any objections at all to weapons of mass destruction, and our Protestant politicians believe that Christianity actively supports nuclear retaliation and that this must be taught to nuclear launch officers?

    link to talk2action.org

    Our religious politicians are projecting onto all Moslems their own belief that a movement acting in God’s name has the imperative to pursue absolute power by any means necessary. A pacifist is a kind of religious person who cannot succeed as a politician in this country, because we think if he really had faith, he’d be willing to kill for it.

  34. If Iran really wanted to devious and humiliate the U.S or Israel they’d first convince on or both countries that Iran was developing a nuclear weapons program (when it reality it wasn’). A subsequent pre-emptive strike on what turn out to be baseless claims of developing a nuclear weapon would do more to damage and humiliate the U.S. and Israel, than any attack or proxy attack (e.g. Hezbollah) could do.

    I realize such a scenario may border on the conspiratorial, but then again there were ultimately no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when the U.S. invaded a few years back.

    • OK. But then it surely must be in someones business interests for this crazy stuff to occur, some group must benefit? Defense? Oil? Does that make it worthwhile? Not to me.

      • “The president has failed the Arab Spring, it’s become the Arab Winter in too many respects,” Romney said. “It’s pretty straight forward in my view. If Barack Obama gets re-elected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon and the world will change if that’s the case.” “Syria is Iran’s only Arab ally. It’s also their route to the sea. It is also their route to arming Hezbollah in Lebanon, which is just going to attack Israel from Lebanon.”
        A major theme of Gingrich’s campaign has been his intention to bring gas prices down to $2.50 a gallon by encouraging more offshore drilling and tapping into resources in Alaska.

        • I love Romney’s little scam of pitting Arab Spring against Iranian geopolitical success. It’s the tyrants and monarchs of the Arab world who whine about Iran, and only after Bush spent years indoctrinating (or blackmailing) them to do so to provide cover for our Iraq debacle. Post-Mubarak Egypt doesn’t seem to have any problems with Iran, and neither do Libya or Tunisia. Romney would have given Mubarak enough weapons to make Cairo look like “Cast Lead”.

  35. Thanks Juan for the excellent post. One of my acquaintances Anthony A. Zeitouni shared this with me on Google+. I’m putting your post on my website IndianMuslimObserver.com for wider dissemination among my readers.

  36. Ok, if we take the Ayatollah at his word, then why won’t he back it up with deeds? Why do the IAEA inspectors continue to cite Iran’s non-cooperation with inspections as suggesting they are engaging in activities that lead to a nuclear weapon. If nuclear weapons are such a grave sin, is showing the world your nuclear facilities such a grave sin you can not prove to the world you mean what you say?

    • NOMADCMIND, I was just about to post this same comment. +1 for you, bud.

  37. From Glenn Greenwald at Salon:

    A few other related points: (1) the U.N. Security Council in 1981harshly condemned the Israeli air attack on Iraq’s nuclear power facility as a “clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct”; that Resolution also “call[ed] upon Israel urgently to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards” (via MediaLens, which notes that “even the US didn’t abstain”); (2) former Obama Pentagon official Colin Kahl argues today that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the 1981 Israeli attack on Iraq made Iraqi proliferation more likely, not less likely; (3) a cartoonfrom VastLeft on Obama, Iran and sanctions; and (4) Chris Toensing of the Middle East Research Information Project has an excellent article rebutting the claim (issuing from the predictable circles) that Obama is not to blame for the sky-high tensions and possible war.

    link to salon.com

  38. Read through the article, not all the comments. But there are a few obvious questions here.

    First (and educate me if I’m wrong), Khamane’i was Leader when Iran did (at least according to the American NIE if not the IAEA) have a working nuclear weapons program, i.e., up to 2003.

    Second, the Pope and the birth control argument doesn’t quite work. You have the Israeli pit bull lunging at you while the guy who holds his chain seems to have a slippery grip on it. There’s no reason to believe the Pope took his position about birth control under duress. There are plenty of good reasons to believe the Leader did.

    Finally, since when do we identify Ahmadinejad as being particularly pro-nuclear weapons?

    That being said, it seems clear to me that this whole nuclear debacle is over the collective anxieties of the Israeli state which have little basis in reality, something which even Israeli statesmen like Ehud Barak and spy chiefs like Meir Dagan recognize.

    • My information on Barak was dated. I recognize that he’s joined the call for war. And that Dagan is leaning in that direction too.

    • There is no proof of an Iranian weapons program before 2003. The IAEA always says ‘may have had.’

      Actually there is an exact analogy between papal encyclicals and Khamenei’s fatwas. The Catholic church has suffered enormously from the birth control ban, which contributed to its collapse in many parts of the world as young people departed the Church. The popes have stuck with the ban.

      There are lots of religious people who have died for a principle. Secular Westerners aren’t good at understanding this.

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