February 15, 2007


Tapping Ahmadinejad's egg (Victor Davis Hanson, 2/15/07, Jewish World Review)

Imagine that Iran is a hardboiled egg with a thin shell. We should tap it lightly wherever we can -- until tiny fissures join and shatter the shell. [...]

[W]e should announce in advance that we don't want any bases in Iran, that we don't want its oil, and that we won't send American infantry there. That would preempt the tired charges of imperialism and colonialism. [...]

Let's also keep our distance and moderate our rhetoric. There's no reason to frighten average Iranians -- who may share our antipathy to their country's regime -- or to make therapeutic pleas to talk with those leaders in bunkers whom we know are our enemies.

Finally, and most importantly, Americans must conserve energy, gasify coal, diversify fuels, drill more petroleum and invent new energy sources. Only that can collapse the world price of petroleum.

When oil is priced at $60 a barrel, Ahmadinejad is a charismatic Third World benefactor who throws cash to every thug who wants a roadside bomb or shouldered-fired missile -- and has plenty of money to buy Pakistani, North Korean or Russian nuclear components. But when oil is $30 a barrel, Ahmadinejad will be despised by his own masses, who will become enraged as state-subsidized food and gas skyrocket, and scarce Iranian petrodollars are wasted on Hezbollah and Hamas.

None of these taps alone will fracture Iran and stop it from going nuclear. But all of them together might well crack Ahmadinejad's thin shell before he gets the bomb.

As their recent midterm election demonstrated, we can also exploit the fact of Iranian democracy as we spectacularly failed to do in their last presidential election. We and Ayatollah Khamenei will be making common (if unacknowledged) cause in coaxing reformers to return to the polls to elect new leadership.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 15, 2007 7:22 AM

Rafsanjani is not a reformer. Neither is Khameini. Neither was Khatami. Reformers aren't allowed to run. It's a very simple system, designed to protect the gangsters and mullahs.

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 15, 2007 9:41 AM

Yet iran has been reformed considerably. Odd that.

Posted by: oj at February 15, 2007 12:22 PM

Reformed from what?

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 15, 2007 12:36 PM

Jim: I would hazard a guess that "reformed" means liberated from the spiritual jailhouse. The only Iranians I have met were military officers, back when the Shah ran the place, and they seemed pretty reassonable and "reformed."

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 15, 2007 2:24 PM

The repression of the early days under Khomeini.

Posted by: oj at February 15, 2007 3:14 PM


I understand your definition, but I doubt if that is what OJ meant. He seems to think that the Shi'a are incapable of Sunni-like corruption and misrule. He is wrong.

I know many Iranian ex-pats, and they have one thing in common - a deep streak of sadness. Most are not Muslim any more (even if they have been here for 30+ years, they know what Khomeini's Islam has done to their country and their heritage). They don't 'love' America, and they don't like the current state of affairs between us. But their history haunts them.

The mullahs have created a system where political reform can only be achieved through a rejection of Khomeini and his version of Islam. Who in Iran is going to walk that path? Rafsanjani has already been President. Zilch on reform for him. Khatami was a sop to Europe and the UN and presumably Bill Clinton.

Who is going to be the Iranian Khruschev, and denounce the monster? Nobody, if Ali Khameini, the Revolutionary Guard, and all the Supreme Councils on Protection and Gate-keeping and Purity have anything to say about it.

We can hope that the youth in Iran (as the more current post points to) will 'reform' Iran beyond its gangster government(s). But we can't pretend it has reformed as of today.

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 15, 2007 3:27 PM

Jim, if the Iranian expats you know don't love America, please tell them from me, to get out and find a place they can love. It's infuriating. why should we allow them to stay here when there are millions just aching to take their places.

Posted by: erp at February 15, 2007 3:37 PM

that's inane. Ahmedinejad is misruling the country which is why the conservatives and the reformers are joined together to dump him. Khamenei realizes the need to reform the economy if the Revolution is to be saved which is why he allowed Khatami and wanted either Moin or Rafsanjani last time. Of course, it can't be saved and he didn't realize how thoroughly he'd alienated reformers, which is how he got stuck with Mahmoud.

What he can do is draw the clerisy back from day-to-day intercession in the nation and reserve for them only the power to veto laws and court rulings that are antithetical to Shi'a Islam and the power to overturn elections. This is what the English monarchy should likewise have done.

Posted by: oj at February 15, 2007 4:01 PM


Most Iranians I know are ambivalent - they know this is the best place in the world for them and their families, but they ache for their homeland. They are not like others I have worked with (some Muslims from India, most Syrians and Palestinians, some Saudis, and almost all Pakistanis) who are here and complain, but will never leave, even as they decry the impact of American culture on their children. The Iranians I know usually go back home every 2 years or so. The others, hardly at all.

OJ - Sure, the mullahs want to dump Ahmadinejad (except for the Yazid-types). He is the total opposite of Khatami (i.e., he is a lightning rod). And he represents a direct threat to them, because he emulates their style of governance (secret armies, thugs in the streets, etc.).

There are no 'reformers' in a position to be President. Rafsanjani was there from 89-97, and things didn't change a whole lot, other than the war with Iraq was over. My Iranian friends tell me that things at home actually got worse under Khatami (97-05), which is one reason why Ahmadinejad was elected.

I would love your 'trust' in Khameini to be fulfilled. But there is no evidence to support it. And your statement about overturning elections is most telling - what if a real "reformer" proposed a government with a President but no Supreme Leader? The horror!

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 15, 2007 6:49 PM

Of course there are reformers. Even Rafsanjani and Khamenei are reformers now because if they can't grow the economy the Revolution is toast.

Democracy has worked rather poorly in the West. The Iranians would do well to retain a Shah or a Supreme Leader with some real power to act as an ultimate check on the system.

Posted by: oj at February 15, 2007 11:41 PM

Jim, I have zero tolerance for those who decry their children's Americanization and yearn for their homelands. They should be decrying their homeland's terrorism and heavy cost to us in men and treasure to combat it.

I'm sick of our country and culture constantly in the cross hairs of those who don't have the moral authority to kiss our feet.

Love us or leave us.

Posted by: erp at February 16, 2007 9:15 AM