The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, February 19, 2007


It appears that the MSM, Hans Blix, Nancy Pelosi, and the usual cast of characters fear that we’re about attack Iran. After all, the Bushies have ordered the arrest of Iranian provocateurs in Iraq and moved two carrier task forces into the Persian Gulf—certainly provocative and, dare I say it, threatening moves.

In a wonderfully wry commentary on all of this, David Warren writes:
I admit, I am about to present a paradox, that may take up to a minute to think through. But it will be time well invested.

The reason one utters a threat, to another person who is threatening to hurt us, is not, usually, because we want to fight. It is, usually, because we don’t want to fight. We are hoping to persuade this enemy -- who must be an enemy, because he threatened us first -- to back down. We are explaining to him, as succinctly as we can, why it is that he might not want to do what he says he wants to do. One may -- here comes the paradox -- utter a threat with entirely pacific intentions.

Warren concludes that the subtlty of this paradox seems to have escaped the usual cast of characters, who view any action by the United States as immediately belligerent, and ironically, see any action by the Iranians as, well, nothing to be concerned about ... at least not at the moment.

Warren comments on those who view our current actions as belligerent:
For such people, a threat is just a threat, a warlike act -- unless it is directed towards President Bush, or some more local bogeyman, in which case it becomes a natural expression of a nearly cosmic antipathy. The most blood-curdling cries from Iranian ayatollahs, to exterminate all Americans and Jews in a nuclear holocaust, can be shrugged off as just a little overdone. But should the U.S. president reply, “We will defend ourselves,” he will provoke a great glowing rage among them. How dare Bush utter threats?

They do not think of themselves as siding with, e.g. the ayatollahs. Not even the Iranian man in the street does that. They think they are on the side of pellucid virtue. But the paradox there is: no, they are on the side of the ayatollahs.

There’s no doubt that we’re sending tough signals to Iran, and it’s about time we’ve done so. More importantly, it appears to be working.
… [Iranian] rulers are from all sides becoming aware of the havoc being played on Iran’s economy by both the threat of regional war, and the remarkable success of a few key Bush administration manoeuvres (including in world oil markets). On one side of the current dissension are those who, like President Ahmadinejad, insist that America is a paper tiger, and that although its sanctions are beginning to bite, even before U.N. measures are applied, “wiser heads” among U.S. Democrats will abandon them shortly. To this Iranian view, as to the general view of both Sunni and Shia fanatics, America will never have the stomach for a fight, so they should keep pushing against the paper tiger until it crumples.

But there are indications that many in the background leadership, including the “supreme guide”, Ali Khamenei, think quite differently and have been preparing Iranian public opinion (such as it is) for some rather humiliating climb-downs. In other words, they begin to sense that Iran may be the paper tiger: an inevitable conclusion if you look at the two rivals, on paper.

So … should we back off and be less “threatening,” try to use reason and kind words with Amadinejad and the Mullahs, “negotiate with our enemies,” or continue with what seems (for the first time in quite a while) to be working. I’d say to the Bushies—this is the first nuanced, smart thing you guys have done in some time. Keep it up.