“The US and UK are working on a strategy to promote democratic change in Iran,” according to officials who see the joint effort as the start of a new phase in the diplomatic campaign to counter the Islamic republic's nuclear programme without resorting to military intervention.
“Democratic change”? Look, take care of the nuclear bomb project, and after a month or two or three of rally-round-the-flag support for the Islamic Republic by many who detest it, that support will end, and the full humiliation of what has occurred will embolden all enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the more corrupt mullahs will begin to be liquidated, and the end will be, if not close, closer than it was before. Do not believe those transparent remarks — by the likes of Gary Sick, say — that an attack on Iran would “set back” forever the cause of democracy and reform. It wouldn't.
And even if some (not all) anti-regime Iranians begin to feel more nationalistic, and assume that the regime will fall and then they, the good guys, the sane ones, will be in possession of those nuclear weapons. Keep in mind that had the Shah's regime obtained nuclear weapons, they would now be in the hands of the regime that followed him. It is not the Islamic Republic of Iran that must be kept from getting nuclear weapons; it is Islamic Iran, an Iran that is full of Muslims, and that at any point in the future, might begin — as Turks despite Kemalist constraints have begun — to feel that old Islamic feeling, and we all know what that means for infidels.
One does not wish to “democratize” Iran. One wishes to Zoroastrianize or Christiainize or otherwise de-Islamize Iran. It can't be done from outside. It can only be done, if it can happen at all, by those within Iran depicting Islam, truthfully as it turns out, as a vehicle for Arab linguistic, cultural, and other kinds of imperialism. It was Arafat and the PLO that helped bring Khomeini to power. It is the attempt to be plus islamiste que les arabes that is causing the Islamic Republic to threaten, and no doubt to mean its threats, to destroy Israel (we did it, you Arabs couldn't do it — so we get to be seen as the bestest Muslims of all time).
Again, if this “strategy” is a substitute — who's in charge of this “democratization project” … Cheney's daughter? — for the sensible and time-honored “strategy” of bombs (missiles) away, it is a threat to clarity and therefore to our “infidel” safety.
If the English are involved, this is silly for two reasons. First, Straw and the Foreign Office will always try to find ways to keep those “hot-headed” Americans from behaving as they should behave. Second, Great Britain is regarded as the cunning, manipulative hereditary enemy of Iran, not of the Islamic Republic but of Mossadegh, and the left. Having Great Britain involved shows American naivete, and ignorance of that long history of suspicion of what is seen as British imperialism. That should have been kept in mind.
But several weeks ago, on Natioal Public Radio (NPR), I heard a leading American general (General Scales? I can't remember his name), giving his reasons for not invading or attacking Iran. And he blithely asserted that Iran was very different from Iraq because in Iran “all the people are Persians and are united.” There goes the whole idea of working to weaken the Islamic Republic by encouraging the Kurds, the Baluchis, the Arabs in Khuzistan, even possibly the Azeris, to begin to show their disaffection with rule by the Persians.
With that kind of ignorance being so casually and self-assuredly displayed by one of the highest-ranking and most relevant generals, what do you expect of our policies? How can anything requiring detailed knowledge, and then the imaginative ability to figure out the thousand cuts that might be inflicted, ever be presented, and adopted as policy?
Hugh Fitzgerald is Vice President of Jihad Watch.