January 12, 2006


A Firebrand in a House of Cards (DARIUSH ZAHEDI and OMID MEMARIAN, 1/12/06, NY Times)

Mr. Ahmadinejad is surely motivated by ideology and the desire to solidify the position of the security faction within Iran's ruling elite. But he also appears to be acting on the perception that the United States is in a position of considerable, indeed unprecedented, weakness. America's military is overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Washington has focused on monitoring North Korea's nuclear program rather than Iran's. If threatened, Iran could wreak havoc in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Israel. These observations may lead Mr. Ahmadinejad to an incorrect assessment of Iran's strength relative to any American threat.

In fact, Iran has serious domestic frailties, including a shaky economy and its attendant unemployment and popular resentment, not to mention soaring levels of drug abuse and a brain drain. But President Ahmadinejad no doubt takes comfort not only in his belief in divine protection but also in the knowledge that Shiite religious parties aligned with Iran are now the dominant political forces in Iraq, while the American public hardly seems amenable to waging another war in the region. Moreover, Mr. Ahmadinejad very likely believes that the best way to guard against regime change from without is to emulate North Korea by swiftly advancing Iran's nuclear capacity.

Mr. Ahmadinejad is threatened by Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian people, not by the U.S., which will just humiliatingly take out his nuclear toys.

The Iran-Pakistan nexus (Kaveh L Afrasiabi, 1/13/06, Asia Times)

News of the kidnapping of Iranian guards at the Iran-Pakistan border and Iran's accusation of US complicity with Sunni extremists operating from within Pakistan have ignited renewed interest in the ups and downs of relations between Iran and Pakistan.

Russia Won't Block U.S. on Iran (Dafna Linzer, January 12, 2006, Washington Post)
The Bush administration, working intensely to galvanize international pressure on Iran, has secured a guarantee from Russia that it will not block U.S. efforts to take Tehran's nuclear case to the U.N. Security Council, American and European officials said yesterday.

The commitment, made in a Tuesday night phone call between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, will likely help the United States and its European allies win support from key countries weighing a tougher line in response to Iran's resumption of sensitive nuclear work.

Vice President Cheney and British Prime Minister Tony Blair suggested yesterday that Iran now faces the possibility of U.N. economic sanctions if it does not halt nuclear enrichment research it began Tuesday.

Condi ends up on top again.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 12, 2006 8:26 AM

I laugh at the claim "If threatened, Iran could wreak havoc in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Israel". Iran is already doing all they can in that area.

P.S. I fear for you if Condi starts wearing tweed instead of black.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at January 12, 2006 4:12 PM


She wore a light grey suit with a collar today. She's halfway there.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 12, 2006 11:32 PM