Playing Chess with the Persians

The consensus of opinion is that the sanctions to be applied against Iran’s nuclear project will not stop it. Even if they were truly ‘biting’ (to use one of our President’s favorite expressions), one has only to consider the importance of nuclear weapons to Iran’s overall goal to realize that they would have to bite really, really hard to outweigh this.

And these sanctions barely nip. Now the talk is about the best way to ‘contain’ the nuclear Iran.

Israel’s position seems to be that the costs for it to strike Iran will be so high and the benefits so temporary that it will not do so unless there is a clear and present danger of a weapon being used against it. This may well be correct.

To be honest, although the outcome is vital for Israel, Israel is only a minor player in the game, which is about the expulsion of Western influence from the Middle East, representing the defeat of the United States of America by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It seems to me that we are at one of those watershed moments. Future historians will point to it and say “this is when the Pax Americana ended and the Second Islamic Conquest began.”

I am not exaggerating. Despite the fact that the armed forces of the US could smash Iran like an eggshell today, the struggle is taking place in an era of post-conventional war in which military power does not guarantee victory, because for various political and psychological reasons it is not employed.

At some point, the formerly superior party wakes up to the fact that the power it restrained — supposedly out of strength — is actually gone. Something like this may have already happened on Israel’s northern border, where the failure to crush Hizballah in 2006 and the inability to prevent its rearmament has created an enemy with the capability of deterring — or at least making much more expensive — future action against it.

The Iranian plan is clear: with a nuclear umbrella to ward off effective responses, the Islamic ‘Republic’ will will install Hizballah as the government of Lebanon (it is already more than halfway there), subvert conservative Arab regimes in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Jordan, Egypt, etc., and cement its control over more than a third of the world’s known oil reserves. It will greatly increase its influence in other parts of the world, including South America (where there is more oil)  and Europe.

In addition to deploying its terrorist ‘foreign legion’, Hizballah, Iran has also shown a pragmatic ability to work with ideologically disparate groups such as Hamas and al-Qaeda. Thanks to the open society of the US and its remaining Western allies, terrorism provides a huge force multiplier for the anti-Western side.

The West is also weakened by the moral decay and lack of ideological strength that characterize its elites — for example, consider the academic preoccupation with ‘postmodern’ modes of thinking that place ethnic politics above reason. Such ideas are finding their way into government and even the military.

At the same time, national ideologies like Zionism in Israel and American patriotism in the US, ideologies that made it possible for the Jewish state to come into being and for the US to play its role in winning WWII, respectively — these ideologies are considered passé and even pernicious by many academics and media people.

Of course, the radical Islamists are prepared to die for their ideology.  They prove this almost every day.

Although the course of history is often changed by unpredictable events — epidemics, inventions, natural disasters or changes, even exceptional people — it seems clear to me that other things being equal, the balance of power will shift massively to the east in the next decade or two unless the US takes action to prevent it.

That action must start with the destruction of Iran’s nuclear capability. Israel’s role, most likely, will be to neutralize Hizballah and Hamas.

The Persians and Arabs were among the earliest enthusiasts of the game of chess. As anyone who has played knows, it’s possible to quickly squander even a great advantage by making pointless or ineffective moves. And suddenly you see that your opponent hasn’t been idle.

But by then, there’s no way out.

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2 Responses to “Playing Chess with the Persians”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    This analysis seems to me correct. The U.S. is signaling retreat. Iran is signaling its own expansion to being the dominant power of the area. There seems little liklihood then that the U.S. is actually going to take the military steps required to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

  2. Robman says:

    This is all – and I mean ALL – about leadership and national will.

    There are six main factors of national power:

    – Nuclear capability

    – Power projection (naval forces, airborne divisions, etc.; terrorism may now be included in this).

    – Strength in relation to one’s neighbors (being a “regional power”, having a strong army/tactical air force).

    – Human/technical/natural resource base to support all of the above. Economic “clout” in it’s own right may be included here.

    – Alliances. Who loves ya baby? Or, who fears you enough to comply/cooperate with you?

    – National will. Like Sean Connery asked in “The Untouchables”, “What are you willing to DO?!”

    In every parameter noted above, Iran is a midget street punk compared with the U.S., except for the last factor listed.

    Amazing what a difference leadership makes, eh? Imagine how different things would be if McCain had got in!

    I’ve never been so worried about the international situation in the whole of my life, as I am now.