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David Warren: Helping Iran think [they are the paper tiger v. gliberals encouraging aggressiveness] ^ | February 17, 2007 | David Warren

Posted on 02/22/2007 9:55:32 AM PST by Tolik

I admit, I am about to present a paradox, that may take up to a minute to think through. But it will be time well invested.

The reason one utters a threat, to another person who is threatening to hurt us, is not, usually, because we want to fight. It is, usually, because we don’t want to fight. We are hoping to persuade this enemy -- who must be an enemy, because he threatened us first -- to back down. We are explaining to him, as succinctly as we can, why it is that he might not want to do what he says he wants to do. One may -- here comes the paradox -- utter a threat with entirely pacific intentions.

You’d think this was obvious, my gentle reader. I used to think it was, too. But we are living in a time, out here in the far West, when nothing seems to be obvious anymore, when -- the example is irresistible -- even motherhood is no longer a motherhood issue. And I am darned if I’m not going to continue trying to use this column to explain the most self-explanatory things. Because you never know when the penny’s going to drop, even in the mind of a determined “gliberal”.

That is the word I use to describe the established power class in our government, universities, bureaucracies, and media. Not ideological incendiaries, for the most part, but rather, people who quietly work to advance surprisingly imbecilic ideas, that will collapse in a moment if they are ever examined. People whose lives are lived in a cottonball fog of “mere plausibility”. People for whom any paradox is a dangerous anathema, that threatens to trick them into intelligent thought.

For such people, a threat is just a threat, a warlike act -- unless it is directed towards President Bush, or some more local bogeyman, in which case it becomes a natural expression of a nearly cosmic antipathy. The most blood-curdling cries from Iranian ayatollahs, to exterminate all Americans and Jews in a nuclear holocaust, can be shrugged off as just a little overdone. But should the U.S. president reply, “We will defend ourselves,” he will provoke a great glowing rage among them. How dare Bush utter threats?

They do not think of themselves as siding with, e.g. the ayatollahs. Not even the Iranian man in the street does that. They think they are on the side of pellucid virtue. But the paradox there is: no, they are on the side of the ayatollahs.

In several recent dispatches on Iran, by the well-informed Persian, Amir Taheri, and other regional correspondents, we have been learning about how the Iranian revolutionary government has been reacting to the recent American build-up of forces in the Persian Gulf, and now in neighboring Iraq. Iran’s priestly politburo is genuinely unlike the one we associate with the old Soviet empire. It often fails to speak with one voice. There are currently many signs of dissension in the ayatollahs’ ranks, and those who read Persian watch carefully for them.

As Taheri puts it, these rulers are from all sides becoming aware of the havoc being played on Iran’s economy by both the threat of regional war, and the remarkable success of a few key Bush administration maneuvers (including in world oil markets). On one side of the current dissension are those who, like President Ahmadinejad, insist that America is a paper tiger, and that although its sanctions are beginning to bite, even before U.N. measures are applied, “wiser heads” among U.S. Democrats will abandon them shortly. To this Iranian view, as to the general view of both Sunni and Shia fanatics, America will never have the stomach for a fight, so they should keep pushing against the paper tiger until it crumples.

But there are indications that many in the background leadership, including the “supreme guide”, Ali Khamenei, think quite differently and have been preparing Iranian public opinion (such as it is) for some rather humiliating climb-downs. In other words, they begin to sense that Iran may be the paper tiger: an inevitable conclusion if you look at the two rivals, on paper.

As allies of the Americans, with common interests, we are in a position either to reinforce the Bush administration’s “threats” -- and thus encourage the Iranian climb-down faction. Or to try to sabotage them in the name of “peace” -- and thus encourage the most aggressive faction. It really is as simple as that.

TOPICS: Editorial; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: davidwarren; iran

1 posted on 02/22/2007 9:55:37 AM PST by Tolik
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To: Lando Lincoln; neverdem; quidnunc; .cnI redruM; Valin; King Prout; SJackson; dennisw; ...

Nailed It!
Moral Clarity BUMP !

This ping list is not author-specific for articles I'd like to share. Some for the perfect moral clarity, some for provocative thoughts; or simply interesting articles I'd hate to miss myself. (I don't have to agree with the author all 100% to feel the need to share an article.) I will try not to abuse the ping list and not to annoy you too much, but on some days there is more of the good stuff that is worthy of attention. You can see the list of articles I pinged to lately  on  my page.
You are welcome in or out, just freepmail me (and note which PING list you are talking about). Besides this one, I keep 2 separate PING lists for my favorite authors Victor Davis Hanson and Orson Scott Card.  

2 posted on 02/22/2007 9:56:58 AM PST by Tolik
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To: Tolik

pretty,pretty,pretty clear...

3 posted on 02/22/2007 10:08:10 AM PST by Edgerunner (Better RED state than DEAD state)
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To: Tolik
A wise and long departed relative of mine once explained the dynamic of making a threat. In order to make a threat credible, several perceptions must be in place.

1 Can the person you are confronting even be threatened? We'll all heard about being so low that we "have nothing to lose". If you have nothing to lose (ironically, the opposite is also true), being threatened sounds pretty empty.

2 Is the person you are about to threaten capable of comprehending the threat? It makes little sense to threaten a mad dog if the dog is not going to understand you anyway.

3 If you make the threat, can you back it up?

4 Does the person receiving the threat KNOW you can back it up?

5 Do you have the will to follow up your threat with action?

If you apply these requirements to the situation in Iran, you can see how terribly wrong this whole thing can go, starting with the question of whether the Iranian leadership is capable of being threatened?

It is clear that we CAN back a threat of military intervention up, but it is not clear at all whether we have the WILL to back it up, or the political staying power to finish them off if we do have to make good on the threat.

Your thoughts, please.
4 posted on 02/22/2007 12:05:08 PM PST by T. Rustin Noone (Angels want to wear my red shoes...)
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To: T. Rustin Noone
"... It is clear that we CAN back a threat of military intervention up, but it is not clear at all whether we have the WILL to back it up, or the political staying power to finish them off if we do have to make good on the threat..."

We have no choice but to initiate a decisive Military Strike upon Iran, and follow it up with any and all additional Strikes on any other Countries that resist. Lybia may be the only Country in the Middle East to be spared, since they have already thrown in the towel.

No other alternatives are palatable for the USA OR much of the rest of the world that depends on oil from the Middle East. If the USA does nothing but hold pointless 'talks', Israel will attack Iran with Nuclear Weapons when they deem it necessary. That's very bad for business.

We do indeed have the means, but do we have the will? It only takes one man, President Bush, to make it happen. I think he'll do it, and soon. ............... FRegards

5 posted on 02/22/2007 9:24:37 PM PST by gonzo (I'm not confused anymore. Now I'm sure we have to completely destroy Islam, and FAST!!)
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To: Tolik; Edgerunner

Ping ......... FRegards

6 posted on 02/22/2007 9:25:49 PM PST by gonzo (I'm not confused anymore. Now I'm sure we have to completely destroy Islam, and FAST!!)
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