"Remove Israel before it is too late and save yourself from the fury of regional nations."
"Israel is a tyrannical regime that one day will be destroyed."
"Israel is a rotten, dried tree that will be annihilated in one storm."
"As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map."
"Israel will be annihilated."
Right then. I'm publishing today, firstly, to see if anyone out there can explain what about the above direct, unedited, verified quotations is ambiguous. If you've got a response to this, I'd appreciate you publishing it right out in the open where everyone can see it, and it can be debated.
Many on the soi-disant intellectual left, particularly many of those very sophisticated people in Europe, and to a slightly lesser extent, in Britain, enjoy putting this kind of talk down to bluster. "Fah! That's just how they talk. It's rhetoric! He's got to make those noises to keep his hard-line supporters placated." He'll never do anything about it. Right?
Well, here are a couple of flies you might want to keep an eye on as they circle above that soothing ointment:
Is Ahmadinejad Serious? Or, Put Another Way, Is He Bat-Shit Crazy Enough to Do it?
First of all, as you may know, Ahmadinejad (and take the time to learn to pronounce it, by the way; you may be glad you did) is what they call in Shia Muslim circles a 'Twelver': he is a messianic, who believes in the coming of the Twelfth (or Hidden) Imam. He believes that a divine saviour, known as the Mahdi, will appear at the End of Days (possibly in the company of Jesus). He further believes that these events are close at hand and that mortals can influence the divine timetable
For instance, one of the first acts of Ahmadinejad's government was to donate about $20 million to the Jamkaran mosque, a popular pilgrimage site where the pious come to drop messages to the Hidden Imam into a holy well. When he was still mayor of Tehran in 2004, he appears to have secretly instructed the city council to build a grand avenue to prepare for the Mahdi.
Ahmadinejad has also said that in his address to the UN General Assembly when he was widely expected to be placating, but instead went off on a rant appealing to God to "hasten the emergence of your last repository, the Promised One" that he was bathed in a golden glow, which held the delegates transfixed. (In fact, they were unblinking because they were stunned none of them could quite believe what they were hearing.)
Okay, so maybe this one guy's a nutjob, but maybe he isn't the last word on Iranian policy. Aren't there a lot of other factions? Sure. There are the mullahs, for one. About a year ago, one prominent group, the Yazdi clerical cabal, issued an unprecedented new fatwa, or holy order, sanctioning the use of atomic weapons against its enemies. Nuclear annihilation of neighboring states now has a religious stamp of approval in Iran. Okay, so those guys are kind of nutso, too. Aren't there moderates?
Well, in the last election, the choice was between Ahmadinejad and the famously moderate Ayatollah Rafsanjani. Whereas extremist Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map", moderate Rafsanjani only says that Israel is "the most hideous occurrence in history", which the Muslim world "will vomit out from its midst" in one blast, because "a single atomic bomb has the power to completely destroy Israel, while an Israeli counter-strike can only cause partial damage to the Islamic world." As Mark Steyn put it in City Journal at the time, "Evidently wiping Israel off the map seems to be one of those rare points of bipartisan consensus in Tehran, the Iranian equivalent of a prescription drug plan for seniors: we’re just arguing over the details."
Aren't the Iranians Entitled to Pursue a Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program?
They're building an atomic weapons program. I know it. You know it. Everyone knows it. If you're still deluding yourself, here are some facts of the matter, in the ever popular quotation format. (If you don't need this deceased horse bludgeoned further for you, skip ahead.)
"Two decades ago, Iran embarked on a secret program to acquire the capability to produce weapons-grade nuclear material. Iran has developed an extensive infrastructure, from laboratories to industrial facilities, to support its research for nuclear weapons."
"Since 2002, the IAEA has issued a series of reports detailing how Iran has covertly engaged in dozens of nuclear-related activities that violate its treaty obligations to openly cooperate with the IAEA. These activities included false statements to IAEA inspectors, carrying out certain nuclear activities and experiments without notifying the IAEA, and numerous steps to deceive and mislead the IAEA."
"The IAEA reported on February 27, 2006 that Iran has produced approximately 85 tons of uranium hexafluoride (UF6). If enriched through centrifuges to weapons-grade material - a capability Iran is working hard to master - this would be enough for 12 nuclear bombs."
"To produce plutonium, Iran has built a heavy water production plant and is constructing a large, heavy water-moderated reactor whose technical characteristics are well-suited for the production of weapons-grade plutonium. In support of this effort, Iran admitted in October 2003 to secretly producing small quantities of plutonium without notifying the IAEA, a violation of its treaty obligations."
"The IAEA has discovered documentation in Iran for casting and machining enriched uranium hemispheres, which are directly relevant to production of nuclear weapons components. The IAEA is also pursuing information on nuclear-related high-explosive tests and the design of a delivery system, both of which point to a military rather than peaceful purpose of the Iranian nuclear program."
"Aside from Iran’s lack of uranium deposits, Iran’s claim that its nuclear program is for electricity production appears doubtful in light of its large oil and natural gas reserves. Iran’s natural gas reserves are the second largest in the world and the energy industry estimates that Iran flares enough natural gas annually to generate electricity equivalent to the output of four Bushehr reactors."
"Furthermore, there is no rational reason for Iran to pursue a peaceful nuclear program in secret and risk international sanctions when the International Atomic Energy Agency encourages and assists peaceful nuclear programs. If Iran sincerely wanted a peaceful nuclear program, the IAEA would have helped it develop one provided that Tehran agreed to IAEA supervision and monitoring."
Isn't It Hypocritical for the U.S., Israel, and Britain, to Maintain Nuclear Arsenals While Decreeing That Iran Can't Have One?
Yes. As a U.S. citizen, I believe the U.S. should unilaterally dismantle it's nuclear weapons arsenal.
In one of the few really coherent and compelling things I think The Nation has ever printed, Jonathan Schell pointed out that every nuclear arsenal exists in relation to other nuclear arsenals and, essentially, we can only protect ourselves from nuclear weapons by getting rid of all them. Important stuff. Go, CND fluff-heads. Seriously.
But that's neither here nor there. As the placard had it in the pro-Israel/anti-terror rally I was privileged to attend in San Francisco: "If the Arabs laid down their weapons, there would be no more war. If the Israelis laid down their weapons, there would be no more Israel." The issues of an Iranian atomic bomb (or "Islamic bomb"), and their stated intention to destroy a U.N. member nation (Israel), are immediate and critical.
Do We Have the Luxury to Assume He Doesn't Really Mean It?
Maybe I do. Maybe you do. But we might feel slightly less sanguine if we were the Israeli Prime Minister; or the head of Israel Defence Force. These are the people charged with front-line, and bottom-line, responsibility for ensuring the survival of the nearly half of remaining world Jewry that lives in Israel.
Allow me to restate that: As of the beginning of 2005, 5.240 million of the world's 13.034 million surviving Jews (40.2%) live in Israel. That is, they live in a strip of land 12 miles wide at its waist and 1,250 miles from Iran's missile silos.
The nice thing is that the Jews have finally got a homeland again, after 2,000 years of being kicked around the planet. The less nice thing is that nearly half of them are now in one place, conveniently bunched up for anyone who wants to take another crack at murdering all of them.Allow me to reprint just two of those quotes from Iran's elected leader:
"Israel will be annihilated."
For those of you who might be a little weak, or slanted, in your Middle Eastern history (as most of Europe, and much of Britain, seems to me, at many times, to be) allow me to remind you that Zionism was originally founded in the wake of the 19th-century Russian anti-Jewish pogroms in which many thousands of Jews were killed, assaulted, raped, robbed, and made homeless. At that point, it started to seem like perhaps it would be a really good idea for Jews to have a place of their own, where this wouldn't be happening all the time. And, after the destruction of European Jewry in 1939-1945, it became abundantly clear that no one in the world was going to keep the Jews from being murdered in their millions no one but the Jews themselves. Hence Israel.
And, allow me to say, Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
Well, fuck this right in the ear; and fuck right in the ear anyone prepared to indulge the kind of thinking that's likely to let it happen again.
Accordingly, I am herewith formally presenting:
The Alexander M. Heublein Plan for Preventing the Second Holocaust
In a nutshell, we've got two words for you: CRUISE MISSILES. Yes, that's right, these dandy flying bombs, with lifting wings and an onboard jet propulsion system to allow sustained flight, are designed to carry a large explosive warhead many hundreds of miles with excellent accuracy. They typically travel at supersonic speeds, are self-navigating, and fly in a non-ballistic very low altitude trajectory in order to avoid radar detection. Simply, they're nearly unstoppable and they can land on any set of GPS coordinates you care to tap out.
Now, of course, the rap on Cruise missiles is the price tag: typically running from a cool million, to up to several million dollars apiece for the really flash models. But, two responses to that: what's the continued survival of the Jews worth? And, moreover, industrial efficiency is sort of an American religion. If we really devoted ourselves to mass production of Cruise missiles which is what would happen if we produced a market where we were going through say a few hundred a week we'd quickly drive down prices to very manageable levels.
But, of course, cost isn't just measured in dollars and saving a few bucks on precision-guided munitions can be a real false economy when there are young lives on the line.
So how about you, then? Bit of a lefty, perhaps? A bring-the-troops-home type? Not real thrilled about extremely sharp, professional, and good-hearted young American and British service-men and women slogging though the dust of dodgy foreign lands trying to sort out millennia-long-running neuroses and improve things for the average poor villager and getting their legs blown off by artillery shells wired to Motorola cell phones for their trouble? Hey! I'm right with you there. Screw that noise. Let's bring the boys and girls home.
That's where Cruise missiles come in. Not a single American or Brit (or Aussie or Pole) has to set foot in Iran, risking life and limb or even a tarnished reputation. Just let these bad-boy flying bombs fly.
Perhaps you don't believe we can reliably take out Iran's underground nuclear research bunkers from several hundred miles away? Not a problem! That's the beauty of the Heublein Plan. We don't have to hit the laboratories, or centrifuges, or reactors, or anything else cleverly hidden in caves. There are a near-infinite number of soft targets, the destruction of which will solve the problem nearly as quickly. Just try developing atomic weapons with no fucking electricity. Nukes by candelight? Not happenin'! Not anytime soon.
Under the Heublein Plan, we systematically degrade (and, if necessary, destroy) Iran's entire industrial infrastructure until they get so sick of having no bridges or factories (rebuild all you want! we'll blow 'em up again!) that they agree to play ball under any rules reasonable people decree. And the real beauty of this plan is: not only do no Westerners need to get killed . . . but not a single Iranian needs to get hurt either!
That's right: we simply stand one or two (or three or four) of our carrier battle groups off the Iranian coast in the Persian Gulf, or perhaps the Strait of Hormuz if we want to get cozy. (And last time I checked, both the Enterprise and the Iwo Jima were already there. Also, last time I checked, we've got all twelve of the world's carrier battle groups).
Okay, once we're on station, we simply get a guy down in one of the supercarrier combat information centers to ring up the Supreme Leader's secretary on, say, Monday. And our guy tells him: "Uh . . . you guys know that big oil-fired electricity plant just outside of Shiraz? Yeah, well . . . you probably want to send everybody home after lunch on Friday. Trust us on this one. I'd also try and stay off pretty much all of the road and rail bridges across the Karaj River anywhere south of Tehran over the weekend. Yeah, no worries. Take it easy."
In the interest of historical accuracy, I should point out that the Heublein Plan was actually developed as a solution to world Islamist terrorism. Basically, anytime there was an Islamist terrorist incident anywhere in the world, we'd blow up something valuable in Iran or Syria. By that means, we'd pretty quickly figure out A) how much of this stuff is sponsored by these two regimes; and B) how much power they really have to stop it. We'd make Islamist mass murder a Muslim problem.
However, this system arguably works even better to stop Iranian nuclear ambitions. A couple of summers with no air conditioning, a winter or two with no booze because nothing can get transported anywhere, and the Supreme Council will be begging us to send the IAEA inspectors back in. They'll be pulling a Muamar Ghadafi on us in a relative eyeblink: "Here's all our nuclear shit. Take it, for God's sake. We don't want it anymore." (If we're really lucky, the Iranian people who by all accounts are educated and cosmpolitan and Western in their outlook and proclivities will also say, "Here's our hard-line, nutjob, theocratic government. We don't want it anymore." But that matters a bit less.)
I think you can only agree that, given our military capabilities, and when it's all put like this, the only question is why we're screwing around anymore. (And lest you think I'm not serious and this is some sort of Swiftian proposal, I should point out I've included President Bush on distribution of the announcement for this dispatch. And if Bush is reading Mark Steyn's book, and he reportedly is, then I might very well be next.)
Your last objection might be that we don't want to earn the opprobrium of the so-called international community. I for one don't give a good goddamn anymore. Not one single good goddamn. The French were our friends for 5 seconds after 9/11. ("Nous sommes tous américains" my nutsack.) The other two permanent members of the Security Council that are not the U.S. or U.K., namely Russia and China, are also deeply corrupt and unabashedly self-interested when it comes to these things. The UN has convincingly demonstrated that it is both unwilling and unable to be a force for good in the world, or do anything useful about anything. (For instance, Bush has assiduously followed the multinational, multilateral, UN route with regard to Darfur and the same thing has happened as always happens when one does that: everyone's dead.) Who cares what these people think? And, moreover, what can they do about it?
The U.N. is actually structurally incapable of acting as any kind of a moral agent in the world. This is because every genocidal, female-genital-mutilating, gay-stoning, village-gassing tinpot asshole dictator gets an exactly equivalent spot at the table alongside . . . Sweden. And Canada. Kenneth Tynan has remarked that "Hell is not the place of evil; rather, Hell is the absence of any standards at all." Sign me up for signing off from the international community.
Anyway, however you feel about a 12th or 21st strongly-worded UN resolution, it's abundantly clear that any preventing of the next Holocaust is going to fall to the Americans (or, more accurately, sadly, a wafer-thin majority of red-state Americans), or to the Israelis themselves.
At crucial, hinge moments in history, there are typically only bad choices and much, much worse choices. Faced with the very real prospect of a glowing crater where Tel Aviv used to be . . . lights out across Iran looks to me like a very, very less bad plan of action.
Speaking of history: go read Professor Howard M. Sachar's History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time. Go read Resistance: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by Israel Gutman. I'm just sorry, but however little you like the Bush administration and there are abundant reasons for disliking it, many of which I'm very hot about myself it actually does appear to be rather a Manichaean world we're living in. At any rate, there's unquestionably evil about this there can be little dispute. We can only wait and see how good gets on.
Pick a side.
To stand on the sidelines is to stand with evil. As the great English philosopher Edmund Burke has said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." And if you think that's unfair, or want to know why it has to be like that, well, the great American existentialist urban philosopher DJ Run answers: "Because it's like that and that's the way it is."
And as long as I'm quoting immortal hip-hop legends:
Black man's law is raw like Africa
We're comin' after ya
Right versus wrong, good versus evil, God versus the Devil what side you on?"
While researching and writing this dispatch, I prepared the following two totally lovely pizzas; and dabbled in the drugs from the following pile.
In very slightly related news, Baroness Thatcher became the first former British Prime Minister to get a full-length statue in the Palace of Westminster while still alive. "I might have preferred iron," she wryly commented at the unveiling, "but bronze will do. It won't rust." "She has the mouth of Marilyn Monroe," once commented Francois Mitterand, in a moment of characteristic Gallic salaciousness, "and the eyes of Caligula."
When, oh when, will the U.S. get a female head of state as Britain did in 1979, as Israel did in 1969 (read this), as New Zealand does right now? I mean, for God's sake not in 2008 . . . But after 2008 when, oh when . . . ?