A Menagerie of Outspoken Opinions on Science, World Politics, and Geek Culture

Friday, October 28, 2005

Dogs and Cats Living Together

There’s unexpected, and then there’s unexpected. It’s one thing for the Devil to, say, allow an occasional cool breeze … but it’s quite another for him to actually distribute sno-cones to the damned. No less shocking than Satan handing out frozen treats is a sane, reasoned editorial from the WaPo about Iran.

It’s like Condi Rice showed up and dashed an editor with a bucket of ice water, rousing him from his liberal stupor long enough to write something other than an anti-Bush screed.

Money quote:

"But the crudeness of Mr. Ahmadinejad, and his already evident failure to deliver on his populist promises to raise Iranian living standards, ought to open the way to a different approach. Unlike their president, most young Iranians would like to live in a prosperous and democratic society that enjoys good relations with the West. The West should stand up for that Iran; it can do so by rejecting and isolating the hateful ideologue who would drag the country in the opposite direction."

Easy there, let me get you a chair. The cognitive dissonance created by reading something like that and knowing it came from the WaPo can cause extreme disorientation and dizziness. The piece even criticizes Europe’s appeasement-oriented approach to Iran and alludes to the idea that Israel and the Bush Administration may have been right all along.

Here, breathe into this paper bag.

Unlike the WaPo editorial, Ahmadinejad’s stance comes as absolutely no surprise to me; I have long argued that Iran is the real powder keg of central Asia. The government is a noxious mixture of religious fundamentalism and police-state politics, and all real power is concentrated in an unelected judiciary of rapacious theocrats. There are many states that exhibit one of these ills (or something quite similar), but none are as simultaneously repressive, dysfunctional, and belligerent as Iran. Even Saudi Arabia, with its reactionary monarchy and religious fundamentalism, understands the value of sane diplomacy and good relations with the west.

In Iran, genocide is not merely the desire of an Islamofascist minority. It is state policy. The greatest danger from Saddam was that he would sell nuclear technology to terrorists; the Iranians will use that technology themselves, as a matter of course. The danger is just as real and ten times more direct.

Unless there is a near-miraculous, pro-western revolution inside Iran sometime soon, I fear war is inevitable. Either the Iranians will try to make good on their threat to “wipe Israel off the map”, or the Israelis will tire of sitting on their thumbs while Ahmadinejad plots to vaporize Tel Aviv. I hope that the democratization of Iraq will spread to Iran, as it is already starting to do to most other nations in the Middle East. But I’m not counting on it.

Democratic influence, no matter how honest and pervasive, might well be futile in the face of such well-entrenched hatred and lunacy.