January 21, 2007

NOT THAT HE EVER HAD MUCH SUPPORT TO LOSE:

Hands up if you've lost the plot: First, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad alienated the rest of the world with his religious extremism, nuclear ambitions and global grandstanding. Now, due to domestic failures and economic incompetence, he is doing the same to ordinary Iranians (Gethin Chamberlain, 1/21/07, Sunday Telegraph)

Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005 promising to use oil money to cut the gap between rich and poor. If he has succeeded, it is only because both groups are now struggling to make ends meet.

Had he nailed the economics, his critics might have had more stomach for his political grandstanding and nuclear brinkmanship. Instead, while the Iranians are at the Americans' throats throughout the region, internal inflation and unemployment are running at 30 per cent and rents and property prices are 40 per cent higher than six months ago. Even former supporters are questioning whether turning the entire United Nations Security Council against Iran was a bright idea.

Last week, 150 parliamentarians -- just over half of Iran's 290 MPs -- took the extraordinary step of signing a letter blaming Ahmadinejad for the country's woes and accusing him of planning to squander the country's oil earnings, which account for about 80 per cent of its revenues, in next year's budget. "The government's efforts must be focused on decreasing spending and cutting its dependence on oil revenues," the MPs wrote.

It was a sure sign that what limited backing Ahmadinejad had from Iran's supreme leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had evaporated. The hard-line conservative newspaper Jomhouri Islami, a reliable indicator of Khamenei's thinking, spelled it out. "Speak about the nuclear issue only during important national occasions, stop provoking aggressor powers like the United States and concentrate more on the daily needs of the people," it wrote.

The warning signs were already there. Last month, the former president, Hashemi Rafsanjani, a wily opponent of the current incumbent, came out on top in elections to the council of experts, the body responsible for choosing Iran's supreme leader. And while Ahmadinejad's sister, Parvin, picked up a seat in local elections, other supporters of the president were routed, securing just 20 per cent of the votes. The elections were regarded as a referendum on the president's first 18 months in power.

Iranian economists say that Ahmadinejad's domestic problems stem from his devotion to the khodkafai economic model of Iranian self-sufficiency, rather than the alternative Chinese model -- favoured by Rafsanjani -- which embraces markets and international trade. "He believes the economy should be subservient to his political aims," said Amir Taheri, a prominent Iranian-born journalist and author. "He believes international trade is a bad thing because it will pollute our economy and culture."


An awful lot of folks who should know better managed to convince themselves both that he was popular and that Iran could avoid massive economic reform.


MORE:
Ahmadinejad dismisses effects of UN sanctions on Iran (Nazila Fathi, January 21, 2007, International Herald Tribune)

Ahmadinejad appears to be under pressure from the highest authorities in Iran to end his involvement in its nuclear program, a sign that his political capital is declining as his country comes under increasing international pressure.

Just one month after the Security Council imposed sanctions, two hard- line newspapers, including one owned by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on Ahmadinejad to stay out of all matters nuclear.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 21, 2007 9:17 AM
Comments

He only has to be popular enough, long enough to exterminate Israel:

http://pajamasmedia.com/2007/01/the_second_holocaust_will_not.php

The second holocaust will be quite different. One bright morning, in five or 10 years, perhaps during a regional crisis, perhaps out of the blue, a day or a year or five years after Iran's acquisition of the Bomb, the mullahs in Qom will convene in secret session, under a portrait of the steely-eyed Ayatollah Khomeini, and give President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, by then in his second or third term, the go-ahead.

The orders will go out and the Shihab III and IV missiles will take off for Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Haifa and Jerusalem, and probably some military sites, including Israel's half dozen air and (reported) nuclear missile bases. Some of the Shihabs will be nuclear-tipped, perhaps even with multiple warheads. Others will be dupes, packed merely with biological or chemical agents, or old newspapers, to draw off or confuse Israel's anti-missile batteries and Home Front Command units.

With a country the size and shape of Israel (an elongated 20,000 square kilometers), probably four or five hits will suffice: No more Israel. A million or more Israelis in the greater Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem areas will die immediately. Millions will be seriously irradiated. Israel has about seven million inhabitants. No Iranian will see or touch an Israeli. It will be quite impersonal.

Iran is the enemy of America and Israel. Why do you love them so and continue to make all of these lame excuses for them?

Posted by: dna at January 21, 2007 11:04 AM

It's got to be one of those irrational emoltional things - maybe because the Shi'ites are the equivalent of Catholics for Islam????

Beats me, too.

Posted by: too true at January 21, 2007 11:21 AM

Hitler, Stalin, Castro, etc, are all unstoppable, perfect supergeniuses. If they aren't, why did we let them kill all those people?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at January 21, 2007 11:52 AM

Iran is neither an enemy of Israel nor does it have anything like the capacity to harm Israel, though the opposite is true and likely.

Posted by: oj at January 21, 2007 12:16 PM

Iran is neither an enemy of Israel

What part of "Death to Israel!" don't you understand?

nor does it have anything like the capacity to harm Israel

Not YET they don't. They soon will. Very soon. What part of that don't you understand?

Or perhaps like Dinesh D'Souza you're sympathies lie with the oppressive, misogynist, theocratic terrorists instead of the freedom loving West?

Posted by: dna at January 21, 2007 12:24 PM

Since Khamenei is dead or disabled, this says nothing about Khamenei's confidence in Ahmadinejad, and everything about the contest of regime fractions to replace Khamenei. As there are three significant factions in the regime, it's no surprise that a majority of Parliament may wish to weaken Ahmadinejad's faction.

Of course Iran can avoid economic reform, as long as they don't care about their people. Cuba and North Korea have avoided it successfully, and they don't even have oil revenues.

Posted by: pj at January 21, 2007 1:00 PM

Folks who get all their info about Iran from Ledeen are, by definition, ignorant of Iran.

Posted by: oj at January 21, 2007 3:55 PM

Idle chatter never hurt anyone. They chant death to Israel and the neocons want to bomb them. It all comes out in the wash.

Posted by: oj at January 21, 2007 3:58 PM

Iran: "Death to Israel!" OJ: "Just idle chatter."

USSR: "We will bury you!" OJ: "Nothing to worry about, their system will collapse."

Nazi Germany: "We will take over the world!" OJ: "Don't worry, they'll never do it."

Charles Darwin: "Different species appear to have evolved over time through a process of natural selection." OJ: "To arms! We must fight to stop this existential threat to our civilization!"

Posted by: PapayaSF at January 21, 2007 4:10 PM

Yup, PapayaSF, that does appear to be oj's point of view: Darwin's the REAL threat and the apocalyptic seekers of the return of the 12th Imam -- by whatever means necessary -- are our natural allies.

I'm not happy at the thought of civilians caught up in any armed conflict with Ahmadinajad. But I'm even less happy at the ways in which the Ahmadinajads of the world, along with their buddies like Chavez, will use any power they can get their irresponsible hands on.

Posted by: Molon Labe at January 21, 2007 4:42 PM

Your first three isms -- Communism, Nazism, Darwinism -- were defeated rather easily. Islamicism is weaker than any of them. The Shi'ite Republic isn't even Islamicist. It's evolving towards us rapidly, the highest levels having realized that they need Western economic reforms if they're to survive.

Here's an easy way to uncloud your minds:

I'll take Israel and the U.S. and you get Iran and we'll bet an internal organ on which inflicts significant military damage on the other should it come to blows.

Posted by: oj at January 21, 2007 4:59 PM

You want to bet an organ now as who is most vulnerable to an atomic attack, tiny Israel or very large Iran? Let me repeat:

With a country the size and shape of Israel (an elongated 20,000 square kilometers), probably four or five hits will suffice: No more Israel. A million or more Israelis in the greater Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem areas will die immediately. Millions will be seriously irradiated. Israel has about seven million inhabitants.

Iran needs only a few nukes to completely destroy Israel.

And what you are blithely ignoring is the fgact that the Iranians will WELCOME a nuclear holocaust if causes the Hidden Imam to return.

They should be put down immediately like rabid dogs BEFORE they become dangerous to Israel our ally.

Posted by: dna at January 21, 2007 5:33 PM

Yes. Iran is obviously more vulnerable. Israel and the US have nukes pointed at Iran, not vice versa.

We Americans would welcome Armageddon in the Holy Land as well. It's a matter of when, not if.

The rabid dog hysteria is beautiful though--you are who you accuse them of being. This is a drama being played out only in your own psychosis.

Posted by: oj at January 21, 2007 5:40 PM

Israel and the US have nukes pointed at Iran, not vice versa.

For now.

Once the Iranians get nukes, they only need a few.

We Americans would welcome Armageddon in the Holy Land as well.

What's this "we" White Man?

Posted by: dna at January 21, 2007 9:04 PM

Once pigs fly no one will hunt ducks.

Posted by: oj at January 21, 2007 9:44 PM

I think we're looking in the wrong direction. Israel is not in imminent danger from Iran but the US soon could be. This alliance between Ahmadinejad and Chavez has very sinister implications.

Posted by: Tom Wall at January 21, 2007 11:42 PM

OJ:

Sure, the U.S. is less vulnerable than Iran: We'd turn them into glass in about five minutes. That doesn't mean they couldn't obliterate Israel with a few well-placed nukes. If the guys pushing the button are millenarians, they might even welcome it. Or they could figure they'll just plausibly deny having given nukes to anybody. We might not let them off that easy, but we're talking about how they perceive things and rationalize their decisions, not how we do.

The bottom line is it's at least plausible that they have the technology or are developing it, and their nutcase president has given indications that he would do it. That more than meets the wise standard that if a nation is shooting its mouth off and we don't know for sure what they are capable of, we ought to take them out.

Also, that Ahmadinejad is predictably going down right now could mean nothing more than that a nutty regime is losing its most noticeable p.r. guy.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 21, 2007 11:46 PM

We Americans would welcome Armageddon in the Holy Land as well. It's a matter of when, not if.

Millenarians of a feather, shock together?

(Or should that be, "shlock"?)

One can visualize the "Million Man Millenarian March" in downtown DC.
"WHAT DO WE WANT?!"
"ARMAGEDDON!!"
"WHEN DO WE WANT IT?!"
"NOW!" (though they might wanna wait til after the Super Bowl...)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at January 22, 2007 4:51 AM

We Abrahamists are millenarian.

Posted by: oj at January 22, 2007 7:26 AM

Matt:

No, it isn't. It's delusional.

Posted by: oj at January 22, 2007 7:36 AM

And if there be ten just men un the city?

Posted by: Barry Meislin at January 22, 2007 8:07 AM

It'll be 8 more than we started with.

Posted by: oj at January 22, 2007 8:33 AM

Once pigs fly no one will hunt ducks.

Are you stating that the Iranians can never hopr to develope nukes? If so, what are you basing this claim on? Isn't it time you let the retof the worldin on your secret information and insight?

We Abrahamists are millenarian.

Again I ask, what's this "we" White Man? I'm a Catholic and we're Preterists, not Millenarianists.


Posted by: dna at January 22, 2007 5:03 PM

OJ:

Delusional until they do it. Folks said Hitler was delusional. A Holocaust survivor told my mom she sees a lot of parallels to the 1930s with the way the world treats the Iranians like they're just kidding. I know you don't consider him to have been a threat either, but threatening to nuke another country is awfully serious even if it does come from a guy who'll probably be gone shortly. He's just the ugly face of a screwball regime and perhaps even performs a service by making it harder to ignore these guys. As long as their apparent nuke program continues it's silly not to take them seriously. Remember the saying: When people say they want to kill you, believe them.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 22, 2007 5:12 PM

I ought to note that Hitler appears to have actually been delusional, just not in the way people thought. Folks thought the Germans would eventually get around to noticing what a buffoon he was. I think they eventually did, after the war.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 22, 2007 5:15 PM

Yes, Iran will never have functional nuclear weapons that threaten Israel or the U.S.

Americans.

Posted by: oj at January 22, 2007 7:50 PM

Hitler wasn't delusional in any meaningful way. Both his Darwinism and his socialism are rather mainstream facets of secular European thought.

Posted by: oj at January 22, 2007 7:51 PM

Matt:

Ahmedinejad merely takes your saying to heart.

Posted by: oj at January 22, 2007 7:52 PM

So why are you so sure Iran will never have nukes?

Posted by: dna at January 22, 2007 8:12 PM

They don't want them and we won't let them have them.

Posted by: oj at January 22, 2007 8:43 PM

OJ:

What saying?

You keep asserting they won't have them but we know they are pursuing them and they keep talking like they mean it. President Bush sure sounds serious about stopping them from getting nukes. Furthermore, they totally meet the specifications you've laid out in the past for taking out hostile governments.

If I had to psychoanalyze your position, which I consider inconsistent with statements you've made in the past, I'd say that you've convinced yourself Iran isn't dangerous because the neocons keep asserting that they are. That, and you're understandably sympathetic to the pro-American people of Iran, particularly as they are Shia.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 22, 2007 11:24 PM

"Remember the saying: When people say they want to kill you, believe them."

We in the West say it all the time of the Iranians.

Posted by: oj at January 22, 2007 11:39 PM
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