February 20, 2005


Playing Make-Believe In Iran (Elizabeth Palmer, 2/14/05, CBS News)

"Do you think President Bush will invade our country?" the young Iranian student asked hopefully, peering up from his keyboard in the darkness of a Teheran Internet cafe. "You know it is our great hope. America is the only country strong enough to free us from the mullahs."

I was asked the same question – often wistfully, always seriously – time and again in Iran, even as America’s military nightmare unfolded in neighboring Iraq.

This is not a real invitation to U.S. troops. A military invasion of Iran would meet fierce resistance, even from the young. But it is a measure of the anger and helplessness that consumes Iranian youth.

If your own reporting conflicts with what you wish to believe, stick to your ideology, eh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 20, 2005 12:37 PM

The old "unfolding military nightmare" trope, again . . . can't help but keep being reminded how the reporting about Iraq never followed the news on the ground, but the pre-determined storyline taken for granted months before the invasion began.

Posted by: Twn at February 20, 2005 12:56 PM

Her conclusions mirror those of the article linked in your earlier post. My Iranian in-laws who have recently returned from a month in Tehran all oppose military intervention. Iranians aren't ready to give up stability for freedom. We still have to take out the reactors. That will certainly lead many Iranians with nationalist feelings to a less positive view of the US, but, they'll get over it.

Posted by: Pat H at February 20, 2005 12:58 PM

Nationalistic fervor is strong among Persians of all political opinions and can be found among religious minorities in Iran, notably Armenian Christians and even its small Jewish population. If we do make a decision to attack Iran, or if we attempt to destroy the nukes, we should take this into consideration.

Frankly, I'd like to see Iraq to be at least as settled as Afghanistan is now before we try anything with the mullahs. Should the mullahs push the issue, of course that is a different matter.

Posted by: Bart at February 20, 2005 1:07 PM

my money is on a us-israeli double play, whereby syria is nailed by the u.s. (but not invaded) and iran gets the same from israel. maybe things will happen in iran that can't be traced back -- "a mysterious series of explosions in iran today, resulted in the release of radioactive material over several regions of the country. " unreliable russian equipment don't you know, another chernobyl was always on the cards...perhaps the mullahs will accidently incinerate tehran.

we don't need to pacify these two countries, only disrupt the grip of the authorities to the point where they are consumed with trying to regain control.

so what if iranian nationalists get pissed at us, what are they going to do, start supporting terrorism ? institute double secret terrorism ? once someone is your avowed enemy and is devoted to your destruction, there is nothing to lose by hitting them.

Posted by: cjm at February 20, 2005 1:38 PM


The difference is how much of your resources you have to spend in keeping your population quiescent. If the Iranian mullahs were confident that their population were either consumed with enough religious fervor or cowed, North Korea-like, into abject submission, they would have a lot more resources to spend on the war. An analogy with German domestic strategy during the World Wars is in order. For most of WWI, there was tremendous deprivation on the home front which reached its zenith in 1918, when street rioting forced the surrender. During WWII, the Nazis looted all their subject peoples to ensure that the home front was well provided for. Real deprivation didn't hit until 1945.

Posted by: Bart at February 20, 2005 2:12 PM

Bart: That is why we will rely on special forces ops, subventions for disidents, psy-war, etc. One of the advantages of controlling Iraq is that there is a tremendous cross-border traffic. Spies and sabotures go in both directions.

Syria a few sticks of JDAMs from a BUFF.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at February 20, 2005 2:44 PM

bart, your point is well taken; i base my comments on reports that the iranian population is already restive if not in the first stages of revolt. i guess the key factor is the iranian military. if they are firmly behind the mullahs then stirring things up won't change the situation in any material way. but if the military is wavering about which way the wind blows, then a strike that reveals a fragile hold on power (by the mullahs) might just persuade them to finish the job and avoid getting anhilated.

funny fact: the germans produced more munitions in WWI than in WWII.

Posted by: cjm at February 20, 2005 3:18 PM

time and again in Iran, even as Americas military nightmare unfolded in neighboring Iraq.

I watched 3 episodes of "The World at War" last night. This is the 26 part English series narrated by Laurence Olivier. The last one I saw was the one entitled "Red Star" about the Russian-German theater of the war. It starts out by stating that more people died in the siege of Leningrad than all the causalties in England and the United States combined. At the end it stated that Russia suffered 20 million plus dead. Talk about wholescale slaughter.

Posted by: pchuck at February 20, 2005 5:50 PM

wow, hitler killed almost as many russians as stalin did. of course no one is going to beat old mao in the body count sweepstakes.

Posted by: cjm at February 20, 2005 6:09 PM

cjm: Have you ever read "The Black Book of Communism"? It runs the numbers of those killed by the communists in the 20th century. The numbers are almost beyond comprehension. And you are correct about Mao being the body count champ.

Posted by: pchuck at February 20, 2005 7:10 PM

pchuck: i have heard of that book and have read summaries of its contents, but did not read it thinking that it would be unremittingly grim. how would you characterize its contents ?

one time in a university course i posited that stalin was worse than hitler because he killed more people (but did not make any excuses for ah's evilness). you can imagine the results...

Posted by: cjm at February 20, 2005 7:57 PM

When, not if, Iran becomes a modern democratic nation, I'm certain that the Western media will report the event in a rather matter-of-fact manner while desperately trying to hide their disappointment. They will also pooh-pooh any notion that Bush, the U.S., or the liberation of Iraq (and quite possibly Syria by that time) will have had much if any influence over the situation.

Posted by: MB at February 20, 2005 10:38 PM

oj, I have permission to post my brother-in-law's response to an e-mail I sent him regarding the above article. I think the readers might find it interesting, thogh it does contain a few non-sequitors in response to my e-mail. He has been in the US since the late 70's but was recently in Iran for a month.

Pat, Very interesting article. The pro American sentiment is real. Remember what I told you after my trip to Iran, They (Iranians) are more pro American than I am. They want opportunities to work,to better their lives, as do most people of the world. The difference being Iran has the resources to actually achieve it . They see the American way of life as giving them such opportunities.

As for the bomb, I don't want to see a nuclear Iran. I wish, Iran as a nation to be above that, and set an example for the rest of the world. But unfortunately I don't run Iran.

I agree with The "Nationalistic Tactic" theory described in the article . Any military action will feed into that, and I have no doubt that Rafsanjani, the true power base in Iran, will capitalize on it.

There is no doubt Iran wants the bomb. It is the entry to an exclusive club, where other governments will think twice before they take military action against you. However, Bombs are rarely ever used against internal revolts, therefore they can't prolong the reign of dictators like Kim Jong Ill. Russia is living proof of that, a dictatorship can be toppled from within, even if they have the bomb. Therefore, the bomb is only a tool in the international political arena .

I disagree with you that a violent overthrow of the theocracy is needed. They are a dying breed, and the younger generation in Iran will eventually be in a position of power in Iran. But they desperately need their older intellectual generation to show them the way, and teach them social and political values. Again that is why I think the freedom of thought and speech is the key to Iran's salvation. The first step towards that is freeing of the political prisoners in Iran. International pressure towards this gaol is the only logical approach to Iran. No doubt it is going to take some time. But then again change in Iraq will take some time too. So which is better, The incredible loss of life, and money, and the hatred war and occupation will leave behind for years, or empowering a people to stand up on their own.

I totally disagree with your analogy of Iran and the bomb to criminals with guns. Pakistan has just as a bad a record in international human rights violations, and an undemocratic government, So how does Pakistan fit into your analogy. George W's own ad visor have predicted a serious side effects to the current relations with that government.

So the bottom line is who is qualified to determine which country is fit to have the bomb, and which isn't. My answer is no government is fit to have it. How is this "idealistic" goal achieved I don't know, but that does not make such a goal wrong.

As for Iraq, we just have to wait and see which one of us will win our bet. I think Iraq is 20 years away from stability and peace, and as I remember you predicted more like 2 years.

Talk to you soon. Vahid.

Posted by: Pat H at February 21, 2005 12:58 AM


Thanks! That's relly interesting. The only thing I'd say is we should take Pakistan's nukes too.

Posted by: oj at February 21, 2005 1:08 AM