scheinen die Anti-Islam-Hysteriker von der Achse der Durchgeknallten und deren fellow travellers, die aus dem Haselnuß-Spektrum der CDU entstammten und nun ihren messianisch aufgeladenen Militarismus (unter einer anderen Flagge) und ihren Rassismus (halt eben anti-arabisch kanalisiert und damit gesellschaftlich hoffähig, so ähnlich wie bei den Linken Aussiedlerhaß chic ist) ausleben müssen, gänzlich verlernt zu haben. Echte Konservative, so fragwürdig deren Denken in Kategorien der "Staatsraison" auch immer sein mag, hingegegen halten es immerhin mit Bismarck, der Weltanschauungskriege stets verabscheut hat. Die alt-konservativen Einfaltspinsel lassen sich aber viel zu oft vor den Karren deutschen Neocons-Sektion spannen und lamentieren dann herum, wenn's zu spät ist und sie wieder einmal bemerken, genasführt worden zu sein.
Das ist, nebenbei bemerkt, auch der Grund, warum wir in den USA mit den Buchananites nicht wirklich dauerhafte Allianzen schmieden können (an dieser Stelle bin ich durch Erfahrung skeptischer als Hans-Hermann Hoppe). Der Neocon wirft ihnen ein paar Brocken aus der Kulturkampf-Pfanne hin, und schon sind sie wieder wochenlang mit dem Gezeter über Schwule, Abtreibungsärzte, und natürlich bitterböse Moslems beschäftigt und überlassen den Neocons das Terrain in den zentralen strategischen Fragen.
Daß Konservative mancherorts durchaus auch zu nüchterner Analyse fähig sind, sofern sie ein anti-neokonservatives Immunsystem aufweisen, beweist dieser Beitrag aus dem aktuellen Spectator:
Let them have nukes
It is the habit of the Iranians to use hyperbole in everyday speech, a courtly exaggeration that they call ta’aruf. For instance, the well-brought-up Iranian does not welcome a guest into his house with anything as mundane as ‘Do come in.’ He or she opens the door and announces, ‘Please step on my eyeball.’ If you ask after the health of an Iranian’s children, the correct response is ‘My children are your slaves.’
This Persian talent for rhetorical colour does not completely explain away President Ahmadinejad’s recent remark that Israel should be ‘wiped off the map’; but it shows the difficulty of evaluating the Iranian threat. Is it serious? And, if so, what can we do?
Iran has rightly been denounced around the world, with the Israelis calling for her expulsion from the UN. Strategists in Jerusalem openly discuss the Osirak option, and one could be forgiven for thinking that now would be just the moment for a quick airborne mission to destroy Iran’s nuclear threat. There are, however, several reasons why this would be ill advised.
Iran has learnt from the Osirak raid, in which Israeli planes wiped out Saddam’s nuclear reactor in 1981. Iran’s nuclear facilities are spread across the country, buried under tons of reinforced concrete or tunnelled into mountains. It is true that the Israelis have taken possession of bunker-busting bombs and long-range F-161 fighter planes from America, but the tactical problems are so acute that planes alone would not do the job. They would have to be supported by special forces, in an Entebbe-style raid deep inside Iran.
But even supposing that a raid combining special forces and F-161s could be mounted, would it be worthwhile politically? It seems not. The planes would have to fly through both Jordanian and Iraqi airspace, and this would mean the tacit support of the United States. The repercussions could be enormous, especially in Iraq, where the Iranians have at least some control over the Shia militias.
A strike by Israel on a Muslim country would invite ferocious retaliation. The chance of any diplomatic rapprochement with Iran — such as that envisaged by France, Germany and Britain — would be destroyed.
Perhaps the most significant consequence would be that it would unite a divided Iran. Despite Ahmadinejad’s claim that he is a president of the people, he has little or no support beyond a hardcore of conservative supporters. The irony is that an Israeli air-strike would give him the popular support to pursue the more radical of his policies.
Do the President’s remarks even amount to ‘a clear and present danger’ to Israel? Ahmadinejad does not have the powers of the French or American president. He cannot authorise the use of military force, nor is he in control of the armed forces or security services. This privilege belongs to the Ayatollah (Supreme Leader) himself.
Furthermore, his opponent in the elections — Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, known as a pragmatic conservative — has been placed at the head of the unelected Expediency Council, a body which has been given increased powers of oversight over the President and his parliament, the Majlis. Furthermore, Ahmadinejad does not carry the popular vote, since most of his reformist opponents were banned from standing. Disillusionment with the political process meant that only about ten million Iranians voted, and of these perhaps six million — out of a population of 70 million — voted for the President.
Bear in mind, too, that Rafsanjani sought to neutralise the President’s lethally provocative remark by reiterating the old Iranian position that if Israel were to make peace with the Palestinians, then Iran would also make peace with Israel. Ahmadinejad simply cannot dictate policy in the way his position would suggest.
A report by the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), meanwhile, claims that if Iran went hell for leather to develop nuclear weapons with its existing facilities, it might be able to produce its first nuclear bomb by 2008 — in three years. Though one bomb is not much of a threat, the report notes that in ten years, when Iran’s civilian facilities have been made fully operational, it would be possible to start producing bombs at the rate of one every two weeks.
If we accept the IISS report’s findings, we are left with ten years in which to come up with an appropriate response. Iran has an incontrovertible right to a civilian nuclear programme under Article IV of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which it has signed. The problem is that the civilian equipment can be easily converted to military ends.
The EU has been trying to thwart this by demanding that one of the sections of the fuel cycle (the process that takes the uranium ‘yellow cake’ and converts it firstly into a gas and then into the radioactive solid required to trigger the explosion) be supplied by them. Iran has rejected this as an affront, and the EU negotiations are bound to fail.
How about regime change? Some argue that the mere threat of regime change is enough, but Iran, a student of the Saddam school of brinkmanship, would probably call the West’s bluff. The United States has the theoretical capability to attack Iran; but a war on Iran would not only be far tougher than a war on Iraq. It would also be very hard for Bush to sell it to the American public.
And what would be the real effects of regime change? The people of Iran have been crawling towards true democracy and the rule of law. A war would radicalise them, and the whole nation would turn against the West. The hatred would last for generations. Every Muslim country, every ‘rogue state’ would rush to acquire nuclear weapons to prevent it happening to them. China, which relies on Iran for roughly 11 per cent of its energy supplies, would be furious, and any further action through the UN would be jeopardised.
Nor would sanctions work on a government with a mediaeval concept of economics and record foreign currency reserves of $25 billion. That leaves containment as the only viable option. Iran is likely to accept containment, because the military option is not open to it. After all, an attack on Israel would be suicidal. Israel has between 100 and 400 nuclear weapons. It can launch them from underground silos, from planes, from its satellites and, perhaps most importantly, from brand-new German-built submarines.
As for the US, its nuclear arsenal is capable of destroying the world, never mind Iran. In fact, the only effect of Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons would be to shore up support for the refurbishment of Britain’s strategic nuclear deterrent.
Iran’s population is young. More than half are under the age of 30 and they are highly educated. They also have unfettered access to the internet; you can walk into an internet café in Tehran and read the BBC news over a cappuccino while listening to 50 Cent. President Ahmadinejad publicly claimed that his phone bill is high because his own children use the internet so much.
Young girls wear tight jeans; couples can be seen kissing in secluded corners of parks. All indicators point to a homegrown change in the political system, as the present regime will inevitably wither under the onslaught of Coca-Cola and episodes of Sex and the City.
But containment does not mean appeasement, provided that the containment is aggressive, and succeeds in isolating the Iranian leadership. The West should reach out to ordinary Iranians, who are more concerned about jobs than jihad. Iran will probably have nuclear weapons by 2015, but by then there are likely to have been changes in Iranian society that will mean they are no longer aimed at us.
An attempt at regime change could halt all this. Consider what has happened in Iraq: whatever good regime change may have done there in terms of geopolitics, it has radicalised Iraqis — to the point where large numbers will remain militant Islamicists for generations to come.
The irony is that the latent threat of nuclear weapons could provide Iran with the stability it needs if it is to become a modern, progressive and democratic nation.