Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Singe the Mullahs' Beards

We did not carry out the Islamist revolution in order to introduce democracy. . .Our revolution seeks to achieve worldwide power…I am a pure fundamentalist.”

Mahmud “Mad Jad” Ahmadinejad, President of Iran

"And now… set Europe ablaze!"

Winston S. Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain, to Hugh Dalton, Minister for Economic Warfare, upon Churchill’s creation of the “Special Operations Executive” to organize sabotage, guerrilla warfare and other covert warfare type operations in German-occupied Europe.

Iran is all over the news this morning. Elections in Iraq are tomorrow and according to the New York Times, the Iraqi Interior Ministry reports that this evening, (Iraq time) Iraqi Border Police intercepted a tanker truck stuffed full of forged ballots which had just crossed the border from Iran. Under interrogation, the driver evidently told the police that several other trucks had crossed from Iran at different points.

It is not news that the Iranian government would like to influence the Iraqi elections. But the Mad Mullahs – and Iraq and the US, would do well to remember that border smuggling can work both ways.

Speaking of Mad Mullahs, AP reports today that Iran’s President Mahmoud “Mad Jad” Ahmadinejad says that the Holocaust was a “myth” started by Europeans to create a Jewish state in the Muslim world. The ever-quotable Mad Jad tells us: “Today, they have created a myth in the name of Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets.”

Mad Jad’s latest pronouncement amplifies his declaration last week while in Saudi Arabia that the proper place for Israel would be in Europe – specifically in Germany or Austria. Today, Mad Jad said: “This is our proposal: if you committed the crime, then give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them so that the Jews can establish their country.”

No word yet that the Israelis are packing for Bavaria or Alaska: instead, Prime Minister Sharon has ordered his armed forces to dust-off their plans to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, and to be ready to go by March. Quite aside from the huge military difficulties Israel would encounter if it chose to exercise its military options against Iran, Israeli preparations seem quite reasonable, given that Mad Jad said in October that Israel needed to be wiped off the map.

I have been threatening for weeks to inflict my plan for dealing with Iran on my readers, but procrastinating about putting letters to electrons. No further excuse for delay because today, Herbert Meyer, a former Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), and once a Vice-Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council – writes with the same idea.

As Mr. Meyer so rightly says we should aim higher than Iran’s nukes. Our real objective should be the whole enchilada: an end to the Mullah regime. This is achievable. As Mr. Meyer, and others, including Michael Ledeen correctly point out:

…Iran today is in a classic pre-revolutionary state…Today, by every credible measure, the Iranian population hates its government. And within the population, nowhere is this hatred of the government greater than among the young people – and fully 70 percent of Iran’s population is under the age of 30. These young people have been risking their lives by demonstrating against the regime – week, after week – for at least two years. Moreover, the kids never miss an opportunity to make clear their desire for friendly relations with – of all countries, the United States.

No, neither El Jefe, nor Mr. Meyer, nor Mr. Ledeen, nor others who point out what the mainstream media ignores except on the back pages – that the Mullahs are in trouble – are on crack. At least 200,000 Iranians are emigrating a year. Despite all the oil wealth, Iran suffers from at least 20 percent unemployment – and that’s on official figures, widely known to be fudged. Inflation is at almost 20 percent. . While the population has grown by a third since the end of the Shah, the economy, in real terms, has lost a seventh of its 1979 value.

The regime is disunited at the top. The Iranian Majlis, the Parliament, stuffed with supposed adherents of the clerical regime, late last month rejected Mad Jad’s third nominee to head the Petroleum Ministry, only approving a fourth nominee on 11 December. The Majlis has rejected nominees for other cabinet posts. Mad Jad’s rival, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani had powerful and influential supporters who have made lots of money off the present bandit regime, and who have reason to fear Mad Jad’s puritanical streak.

Even Mad Jad’s erstwhile supporters seem to think that he is something of a rube: according to the AP story on Mad Jad’s holocaust denial “[i]nside Iran, …[Mad Jad’s] remarks have been criticized by some of his conservative allies, who fear he is hurting the country’s image.” Still, in Mullah terms, Mad Jad is not wacky – the real ruler of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (affectionately known to some of us as “Ali Shah,” cause Shah’s what he acts like) - still approves of him.

But this is just the top leadership, and its cronies – really a very small group of people. Iran is a huge, potentially quite rich, country. The country is misruled, but may not always be so. The time to topple the regime is NOW, before it has a nuclear weapon, and before the increased confidence in its prospects can buy the regime allies, and find it foreign funds (from China, chiefly).

If the mullah regime gets nukes, it will be immunized overnight from retaliation for every kind of outrageous conduct, short of use of nukes, because a nuclear state is impossible to retaliate against without unacceptable risk. Despite their economic problems: caused by misrule and corruption, the price of oil means Mad Jad and his cronies always have options. Hiding behind a nuclear shield, the Mullahs and their intelligence organizations could go hog-wild with covert action and support of terrorism all over the Middle East, and nobody could do squat.

However, it appears to me to be too late to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. They are too far along in the process, the production facilities are dispersed, and the Iranians have built up the requisite technical base and have the educated people to make weapons. More importantly, the Iranian leadership and professional classes, whatever they think of the Mullahs and their regime, WANT the weapons. Recall the last Shah and his talk about building a “great civilization.” Nukes are prestige, as well as power. The Iranians, one way or another, are going to make a nuclear weapon.

It follows that if there must be an Iranian nuke: (and there must, because it’s too late to stop it), than this nuke must be in the hands of a normal government. This can be done. The Iranian government and senior religious establishment is barbarian and corrupt, the Iranian people are not. The one place in the Middle East right now, outside of Israel, where people actually like Americans is Iran (don't be deceived by the rent-a-mobs on TV). The one Muslim country where the whole concept of an Islamic state has been almost completely discredited is Iran.

It can be done.

The Iranians want to smuggle ballots into Iraq do they ? Hey Mad Jad – we can smuggle the other way too. The Iranian regime with all its big talk about wiping out Israel, and the “great Satan” and “worldwide power” ought to get what it's pushing back in spades. What I would like to see is a full scale effort, by all means short of war, to wreck this regime: money for dissidents, small arms, propaganda. Plenty of Iranians hate the mullahs, and we ought to be arming and paying all of them.

The Iranian economy is hurting a little. Inflation there is pretty high: how much higher would it be if millions of counterfeit Iranian rials started showing up from across the Iraqi border ? Come to think of it, an F-16 is about $15 million a copy. How bout smuggling the cost price of ten or so in dollars into Iran for free distribution to ordinary Iranians and enemies of the regime ? A great investment: get inflation growing like crazy, which would give the mullahs fits, but all the free simoleons would probably give a bunch of regular folks a hell of a good time first.

All the decadence of the west can be turned loose on the Mullahs for the good cause of making Mad Jad sweat. How about tanker trucks stuffed with People Magazine, or copies of Penthouse and Us or even the ever-vapid National Enquirer ? Ramp-up smuggling of liquor, drugs, porn, you name it, lets ship it. This is the era of digital film: How bout circulating a few billion smuggled videos of all the top mullahs playing patty-cake with cows, dogs and goats ? All kinds of possibilities and dirty tricks are out there. Won’t the religious police go nuts ? These are people who go ape when men and women share elevators. How wacked-out will they get about millions of pictures of Britney Spears's belly-button ? The more repressive the police, the more ordinary folks hate the regime.

If the Iranians want to interfere with their neighbors, that can go both ways. We can even do well by doing good: got to be plenty of Sunni Arabs in Iraq who haven’t forgotten about the Iran/Iraq war, who might be overjoyed to assist with such a program.

Meanwhile, let the Israelis get their military ready. Lets get our own air and naval forces ready. As Mr. Meyer says: “[g]iven the alternative of a massive attack by Israel, with or without help form the U.S. Air Force, a coup or a revolution may not strike at least a few of Iran’s political and military leaders as such a bad thing.” Perhaps the other steps I suggest might jog their elbows a bit, also.

The Mullahs want to play. We have an available countermove. Take a leaf from Churchill – set Iran ablaze.
ADDENDUM: Mr. Meyer's piece at Real Clear Politics is called "Leave the Nukes, Take out the Mullahs." Amen, but I keep thinking of that great line from The Godfather, when Clemenza said to Rocco, after wacking Don Vito's (supposedly) traitorous driver: "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."


Candidly Caroline said...

What if we just send their president a really nasty note saying nobody likes him? ;)

Baron Bodissey said...

Jefe, you should have linked your post in the comments on mine! Now I'll have to do it for you...