Several recent news releases have upped the ante on how to respond to Iran. As reported in an earlier blog, Iran has announced that they are speeding up the enrichment process. It will take time to make an actual weapon and mount it on a missile so the announcement doesn’t mean that they will be attacking tomorrow. However, it does tell us they are not backing down. At the same time, the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has rejected any direct talks with the United States. Proclaiming that America is holding a gun to their head by enforcing sanctions, Khamenei rejected the possibility of any direct discussions.
Talks have been set to resume this month, but nothing appears to be forthcoming. Israel will insist that Iran only uses the talks as a stalling tactic while it continues to pursue building The Bomb. There is a definite logic in that objection.
The persistent question remains as to why Iran has been so obstinate if their objectives really are only for providing electricity through the use of nuclear material.
At the same time, it appears that the Western World remains on a collision course with Iran. Retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, recently spoke at the University of Central Oklahoma and grimly predicted a war with Iran if both sides continue on the present course. Why cannot the Iranians be forthright and open to beginning talks?
A little known religious factor looms in the background. Classic Shi’ism thought believed that the 12th imam was the messiah. He disappeared in 873 CE, but they believe he will return. Until the imam comes back, all political rule is considered illegitimate. When Khomeini came to power he embraced this minor tradition and brought it into circulation in Iran. After his death, more and more crazies took over the country. Even President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims to have seen the imam. Earlier, Khomeini thought this stuff was wild and dangerous. The religious idea evolved into a conviction that a conflagration could force the immans return. In other words, any form of war might have the potential to fulfill the religious dreams of these Muslims. Consequently, the rulers in Iran have no reason to back off. The West is stuck in a quagmire. How does anyone do business with people who also see suicide as a shortcut to heaven?
Currently, rumors continue that there is a struggle between the mullahs and the Revolutionary Guard for control of the country. Moreover, many in the Revolutionary Guard are putting their money abroad out of fear for what might happen at home. If this conflict is substantial, nothing would unify the country like a good old-fashioned war.
The bottom line is that dealing rationally with Iran is not much of a possibility. Not unlike the North Koreans, they are capable of acting in ways that are actually harmful to them. In this case, they could prove destructive in a much large sphere. Even when Iran is not currently front page news, don’t bet they have changed their course.
We are still looking at a serious confrontation in the near future.