History's End

History will end only when Man does

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  • Sunday, February 13, 2005

    Letter to Barnett

    Here is an e-mail I wrote to Thomas Barnett a couple of days ago. I intend to add some more thoughts later. Actually, I think I will work on a new post now...

    As an avid reader of your blog, and a supporter of your Core/Gap thesis, I must take exception to your analysis of US interactions with Iran. Specifically, this part:

    "Second story ("Rice Says Military Action Against Iran Not on Agenda," by Robin Wright, WP, 5 Feb 05, p. A12) seems to indicate that Rice, while not promising war any time soon, has decided she's going to be bad cop at State to go along with Rumsfeld's bad cop. Hmm. That's helpful. I mean, we have so many levers to pull with Iran, surely we can stop them from acquiring the bomb after all these years of no trade, no relations, no nothing. And Rice goes out of her way to signal she's not interested in carrots. She wants Iran to stop the program in exchange for . . . ? U.S. military domination in the region right on Iran's eastern and western borders? Nice offer. I'm sure it'll work wonders. And I'm sure this principled stance will convince Iran to stop supporting the insurgency in Iraq and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Yes, I'm sure the mullahs will give us the peace we seek in both situations. I mean, look at what we're offering!"

    I don't think you fully understand the situation that that we are in. The Iranian leaders want nuclear weapons, and there is nothing we can offer them that would make them stop their drive for nuclear weapons. You understand that they want them to defend against the US and Israel, which is partly true. But not necessarily just those two, and not for the reasons you think. Iran's leaders are Shi'ites. They are considered heretics by the Sunni majority, and consider the sunni majority heretics in return. They have no desire to start a nuclear conflict with Israel, they know it will result in their destruction. The Russian's didn't consider the fact that China would survive a nuclear war between the US and Communist bloc as a win for them. Both versions of Communism were at odds with each other. The same is true with Islam. The Shi'ites don't want the sunnis to win, even if their mutual enemies are destroyed. The Mullahs of Iran want Israel destroyed, yes, but they want the Shia sect to emerge dominant over the sunni sect, and certainly to survive the "eventual" war with Israel.

    Iran wants nuclear weapons for protection, yes. From the US and Israel certainly. But not simply because it fears "regime change". Iran wants nuclear weapons in order to develop a nearly perfect defense, a wall that can't be overcome. What nation would be willing to pay the price neccessary to take down a nuclear Iran? Iran wants nuclear weapons in order to achieve its strategic objectives. What are those objectives? To destroy Israel is one. But the other, the far more important and relevent objective, is to help alter the balance of power in the Islamic world to the Shia's favor. Iran wants Shia Islam to overcome Sunni Islam, and with a nuclear deterrence can help support Shi'ite armed factions across the Muslim world. From Pakistan to Saudi Arabia to Lebannon, Shi'ite populations would be armed and incited to revolt and fight the Sunni. Iran wants to destroy the heretics, in order to destroy the infidels. Nuclear Weapons are key to this. The other Islamic states are relatively limited in their ability to respond to an aggressive nuclear Iran. They would have no other option than to go nuclear themselves, and that would only deter so much. Iran is preparing itself for a Shi'ite-Sunni Islamic Civil War, and it is key for us to understand this. Groups like Hizb'allah are just the beginning. The Shi'ite-Sunni conflict has been fairly low key for a long time, that is soon going to change. Iran is going to fan the flames of war in the Islamic World. Their nuclear arsenal is aimed as much as Sunni states, as it is at Israel and the US. Perhaps even more so.

    This is the situation the US faces. How do we dissuade the Iranian religious leadership away from what they see as their religious duty? What can we do? They want nukes, and I don't see a way to convince them that they don't need them.

    -Final Historian


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