Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Iran and Consequences

Cicero, writing at Winds of Change, presents a chilling picture of what we should expect the world to be, following the next critical steps in this dance with Radical Islam.

Cicero introduces his analysis with a warning about globalism:

In spite of the view that the globalized world will deliver long-term freedom and prosperity, I have begun to wonder if openness will be an option as we cross history's harsh thresholds, hidden in the tall grass. History always reaps the unexpected; its scythe is strident.

That leads Cicero to think through the implications of nuclear-minded (and equipped) fundamentalists, in contrast to the first 60 years of nuclear history, where only rational nation states possessed such powers of destruction. Cicero describes a state of affairs that is already critical, due to get worse, and unprecedented:

It is clear that the crisis is upon us and all roads lead to a very different world. We may not realize it, but we are not really talking about a country that is seeking nuclear arms. We are talking about a fundamentalist, ancient Islamic cult seeking nuclear arms as its ultimate sacrament. While it is necessary for a 'country' called 'Iran' to exercise its sovereignty in order to achieve the making of nuclear weapons, once achieved those weapons will respect no borders. They are being constructed to defy and nullify sovereign borders as we know them. Shi'a's nukes will proliferate like smoke in the wind; their very being is meant to unravel our world, which we have slowly conceived over centuries, at the expense of the Mullahs' world.

Here Cicero conducts a thought experiment, replacing “Hezbollah” with “Iran” in recent headlines. Try it yourself. It heightens the “pucker factor,” but that only serves to emphasize the true nature of the threat. It’s a must read, all the way to the end. The real threat is greater and worse than most imagine:

A religious suicide cult funded by billions of our petrodollars obtaining weapons of mass destruction has no historical precedent. None. The rules of engagement will be completely upended. Familiar metaphors of superpower warring will be unworkable and irrelevant. Watching sovereign entities flail and dither like paper dolls before their ultimate post-sovereign challenger indicates that the threshold is beneath our feet, if we care to look down.

Cicero convincingly lays out some frightening implications of Shi'a's radical mullahs’ obsession with acquiring nuclear weapons. Most critically, Cicero suggests the commencement of any nuclearized Jihad will have enormous and unavoidable impact on a globalized world economy.

In response to one of his reader’s objections, Cicero amplifies in comments why his choice of Hezbollah for extrapolation is not an idle one. Again, in the form of a thought experiment, Cicero challenges us to place Hezbollah in a slightly different context, and poses some crucial questions about whether Iran is already at war:

It may appear that Iran is not on the threshold of invading anyone, but proxies like Hezbollah are an invasive force in my book. If Iran were funding radical Mexican Islamists in California like they fund Hezbollah in Lebanon, I would most certainly consider myself invaded here where I live. If it was possible at any time that those Mexican Islamists could unleash weapons of mass destruction in my state, or even the threat of blackmail of their use, I would consider myself invaded.

If we want to wait for uniformed Iranian armies with tanks to cross over borders, then we are in the twentieth century, waiting for a war that will never happen. Are radical Shi'a in and around Persia intent on expanding their empire? Does their expansion require Saddam-style Kuwaiti invasions? Has that been their way of making war for the past 27 years?

The true nightmare scenario, as Cicero explains, predicts that the powers of the West will impose the only viable counter-terrorism strategy in a post terror nuke age: militarized isolationism. Closed borders. Immediate and complete cessation of international trade.

The bright spot of Cicero’s assessment is that the US will likely fare better when the walls of isolation are constructed to prevent nuclear terrorism in the post-nuclear phase of Jihad, relative to countries more dependent on global trade:

I am not suggesting isolation as some kind of regressive policy option that we can choose; I am suggesting that it might be the only option left, whoever pulls the nuclear trigger. It will be incredibly painful to endure, but perhaps out of the transition we will reclaim our sense of self-worth. Our history of independence is still longer than our history of dependence. Out of all the uncertainty of this time, relying on our indomitable free spirit is the one possible future I can still imagine.

Cicero’s analysis has sparked an insightful debate at Winds of Change, with regular contributors Joe Katzman, Mark Buehner, and Armed Liberal contributing to the dialog in comments.

Joe Katzman expands Cicero’s argument into what I think is the compelling crisis of opur age:

The most important - and true - aspect of Cicero's essay are the parts that say this goes beyond Iran. It does. All indicators are that the non-proliferation regime is pretty much broken, and here on Winds we've talked about the time-window re: technology diffusion and biological attacks.

If you believe the WMD lethality curve is becoming accessible at lower and lower resource levels over time, then Cicero's essay speaks strongly to the underlying structure of our future world.

Mark Buehner sees some viability of Cold War philosophies and strategies, but not without greater complexities:

We are on the horns of a dilemma, rogue enemy states are the most dangerous because they can produce weapons, but failed states are the second most dangerous because they will use weapons, and both of them rely on flat out enemy states that I think Russia and Saudi Arabia are revealing themselves to be.

In my opinion we are going back to a Cold War philosophy- and i think that is going to look a lot different from what either the late to the party neo-Realists of the left think, or the uber-hawks of the right hope.

And Armed Liberal neatly summarizes in answer to Cicero:

You're talking about the specifics of what I discussed earlier as

But it is a model to consider as we talk about the notion that a sea-change in “the Western Street” could take place which involves a fundamental belief that we can’t deal with the Arab world, and that what we need to do is to disengage fast and hard.

In essence, it’d be a position that said “we’re washing our hands of you”, bulked up border and internal security, and made it a point never to drive through ‘those neighborhoods’ without locking the doors, and never, under any circumstances, to stop there. It solves that whole messy “war” thing, and makes sure that no one says bad things about us in our hearing. We'd be clean-handed liberals, and feel secure.

Great dialog, in a critical discussion. Read the whole thing.

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