The last few months have seen remarkable changes in Iran. The clerical regime ostensibly held an election and chose new leadership. Iran had already been hard at work building a nuclear capability and has long been in an undeclared state of war with the US and Israel. The election pitted the anti-Semitic anti-American Rafsanjani against a relatively unknown newcomer, Ahmadinejad.
It may well be that, looking back to 2006, historians will view the Iranian election of 2005 as the pivotal event of the year. When Iran chose Ahmadinejad, it began a series of events that will prove to be a straight march to war. After ignoring Europe's 2003 objections to war against Saddam, the Bush administration, busy in Iraq, agreed to allow three key European powers, Germany, France and the U.K. to handle the Iranian nuclear issue hoping to peacefully get Iran to give up its nuclear program. The Europeans, confident that this time, soft power, good intentions and appeasement were sure to work, held meetings, began a series of UN inspections and negotiating sessions with Iran. The results were as predictable as they were dismaying; Iran was given trade and economic incentives and then they went right on with what they were doing. Iran is floating in oil, they need a nuclear program like a human being needs a second appendix; and, the truth is, they have TWO nuclear programs, the one they admit to having and a secret program. Both have same single objective, nuclear weapons for Iran. Having learned from Saddam's setback at Osirak, Iran's nuclear programs are spread all over the country, some are underground and, as all "peaceful" research facilities of questionable activities in such regimes, protected by antiaircraft batteries.
Few in America follow Iran and fewer still appreciate their central role in global terrorism. Yet Iran has an unmatched history of terrorism and murder against the US. Here is a regime that is the sponsor of Imad Mugniyeh, Hezbollah's chief of terror operations, the foremost terrorist in the world and widely assumed to be the operational mastermind behind 9-11. Iran has armed Hezbollah to the teeth and uses it as Iran’s proxy to sponsor terror attacks all over the world. Iran is one of only two countries (the other was Syrian dominated Lebanon in early 1990's) to sponsor a world wide summit for terrorist organizations. Iran is terror central; they have murdered thousands of people all over the world; in recent months, most US casualties in Iraq have been caused by I.E.D's of Iranian or Hezbollah origin. Al Qaeda terrorists find safe haven and support in Iran; Sa'ad bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri are alleged to have spent much time there since 9-11.
But 9-11 was just one of many operations against their favorite targets: the US, Jews and Israel. Starting with the 1979 Embassy takeover to the 1982 Embassy and Marine barracks bombings in Beruit, Iran has been viciously hitting their chosen targets pausing only to murder regime opponents. The Lebanese hostage crisis was manufactured in Iran, the Flight 847 hijacking was a Mugniyeh operation, as was the kidnap-murder of Col. William Higgins. Iran was behind the devastating Argentina truck bomb attacks on the Israeli embassy and the Jewish AMIA Community center. They allegedly paid former Argentine President Menem $10 million to spike the investigation. Salman Rushdie was sentenced to death, a million dollar bounty was put on his head. Later, the bounty was later raised, Rushdie’s crime was writing a book. The Khobar Tower bombing killed 19 American servicemen and injured hundreds of others? According to the FBI director at the time, Iran did it. Then there have been countless smaller acts of terror from suicide bombings to rocket and shooting attacks against civilians. For 26 years the only word Iran has had for Jews and Israel is "die." Iran has conducted at least a dozen different acts of war against the United States. Each and every one of these acts should have resulted in the US retaliation, with the exception of the US preventing Iran from closing the Persian Gulf during the tanker re-flagging operation, there has never been direct confrontation between the US and Iran; the US has NEVER paid Iran back. In the current war in Iraq, Iran is responsible for much of the difficulties in getting Iraq back on its feet. They have hired, trained and sent in spies and terrorists to tamper and undermine every US effort in Iraq causing hundreds of killed and wounded.
All of these crimes were Iran's before the election of 2005. The 2005 election took most Iranian observers by surprise. Rafsanjani, a radical terrorist in his own right, was the moderate on the ticket; the winner was of a different stripe altogether.
Iranian politics in the past 26 years have all been within the confines of the structure of the Khomeini's vision for the Islamic Republic. The Supreme religious leader is the true power of the government but there is a Parliament and President that in practice did allow some discussion of ideas and policies with in the very circumscribed limits the regime was willing to permit. There was some freedom of expression, politically acceptable political parties, a press and elections for local offices. In practice, power remained in the Supreme Leader and his radical followers, the Revolutionary Guards prevented any real popular expression of will or meaningful changes of government policies. Torture and repression have been used since the regime came to power to repress, students, women or people who believed in the democratic rule of law.
The Revolutionary Guards are the storm troopers of the regime, murdering opponents, crushing opposition and enforcing Ayatollah Khomeini's strict form of Shi'a Islam. While Hezbollah is nominally independent, the Lebanese based Iranian Revolutionary Guards train and issue orders to Hezbollah. In the Iran-Iraq war, the Revolutionary Guards were the ones who sent hundreds of thousands of children into minefields, clouds of poison gas and concentrated hail of machine gun fire. They gave children said to be the keys heaven; they were promised they would see the Prophet Mohammed when they got to the other side. Iran killed tens of thousands of their own children this way.
The 2005 Iranian election concentrated Iran's political power and organs of state into the hands of these fanatics and made them lords and masters over the entire country. Ahmadinajed is the most extreme of these extremists. What has recently been reported is his membership in a radical sect dedicated to creating chaos in the world that will precipitate the return of the holy 12th Imam of Shi'a Islam. He confided to some clerics that he felt a halo around himself at a UN speech and he has also promised the 12th Imam of Shi’a Islam will be returning in two years! While there is evidence he was involved, some do not believe the reports that Ahmadinejad was involved in the US Embassy takeover of 1979, but he was a central leader of the group that did, he was in Tehran at the time; there is a strong probability he was involved. He certainly didn’t denounce the unprecedented takeover as an unconscionable violation of Treaty of Westphalia. He has been a Revolutionary Guard leader for many years.
Now Ahmadinejad is the new President of Iran; he has assembled around him a cabinet of like minded extremists that makes every previous Iranian cabinet seem moderate in comparison; given the catalogue of crime and mayhem catalogued above, this is an extraordinary thing to be able to say about this group. Their first political action was to purge the government of anyone who might be moderate or otherwise oppose their plans. The 2005 election had already banished most Iranian parties from the ballot even before the election and there were a tiny few voices of dissent in the Iranian Majlis, they are gone now. This government has also begun a ruthless crackdown on religious observance, public morals and general repression.
Why this article is called “The Ominous Parallels”
The regime in history that most resembles the Ahmadinejad’s is Nazi Germany under Hitler; the similarities are startling and case for making the comparison is overwhelming, the regimes share common traits, behaviors and ideology.
Eliminationalist Anti-Semitism- this phrase, coined by Prof. Daniel Goldhagen, describes a form of anti-Semitism that is not satisfied by mere animosity against Jews, rather, this is anti-Semitism that will settle for nothing less than the annihilation of the Jewish people. As first expounded in Goldhagen's “Hitler's Willing Executioners” this type of hatred becomes the modus vivendi of the regime; the main focus of the regime is to commit genocide. Iran's calls for destroying Israel, attacking Jews, Jewish institutions and supporters deviate from the Nazis only to the extent that Iran is driven by radical Islam and Germany by National Socialism and the proximity of Jews to attack. The stated desire, dehumanizing language, public calls for Jewish destruction and use of propaganda, military and paramilitary terror against Jews are distinguishable from Hitler’s only by the methods chosen for killing. Iranian television’s depiction of Jews and Israel is frighteningly comparable to the Nazi propaganda.
Ahmadinejad has both justified the holocaust and denied it ever happened, he suggests Jews return to Germany and Austria where they came from. It has been a long time since any world leader has voiced such outrageous anti-Semetism and ignorance of history; even the UN’s Secretary General, Kofi Annan, not exactly a philo-semite himself, denounced Ahmadinejad’s statements as outrageous.
Regime Totalitarianism- Nazi Germany could not have done what it did without its National Socialist ideology and eliminating the rule of law. Totalitarian regimes use a propagandized extremist ideology to justify delivering the organs of state to the complete and sole control of their party. Invariably such regimes have a demonized enemy, be they Trotskyites, the Gang or Four, Enemies of the Revolution, etc. Such enemies are marked for destruction. If the declared enemies are another people, the regime calls for genocide. Iran was no bastion of freedom prior to 2005 but the recent campaign to crack down on free expression and resistance of any kind is a radical turn backwards from a greater leniency after Khomeini’s death. Hitler burned books and destroyed “degenerate art,” this Iranian government burns “unislamic” or “western” CDs and blocks satellite and internet access, both regimes torture and murder opponents, sponsor wars in other countries while partnering with other outlaw regimes as part of a goal of seeking global domination. Human rights abuse, torture, murder and repression are common in Iran. Iranian rule of law was weak before the 2005 election, it is completely non-existent now. The only thing one can say favorable about Iran's version of the police state is it does not torture and murder as many of its citizens as Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The SS and the Revolutionary Guards are remarkable in their shared fanaticism, brutality and usage by their respective regimes.
Determined to Go to War- Just as Hitler became bolder and more outrageous in his demands leading up to the war, Iran has continued to up the ante at every confrontation with the western powers over its nuclear programs. Iran’s propaganda machine is filled with daily exhortations for the destruction of Israel and the US. Conferences and rallies in support of violence against Jews and Americans are sponsored by the government while the targeted foe is presented in dehumanizing terms designed to make war and violence more acceptable to the populace. Iran has made many bellicose threats against it neighbors and enemies. Their little Mussolinis in Hezbollah and Hamas have openly declared they will violently respond to any attack on Iran. These groups’ behavior is probably more violent than Hitler’s stooges and allies. The Iranian cabinet is a war cabinet composed mostly of men with military or paramilitary background. Instead of technocrats or social governance experts, Ahmadinejad has surrounded himself with a group of people whose expertise is war. It is alleged they all signed a pledge to the 12th Imam, their action seems to be a group steeling itself for battle that or they are very hard core about economic reform. Most of the cabinet are members of the 12th Imam’s millenialist sect, most have been active in the worst of Iran’s rogue behavior. When it comes time to vote on war, these are not people who will say no. They may already have voted yes.
Ahmadinejad's actions since election have focused on protecting Iran’s nuclear program while threatening almost the entire world community as though Iran already had the weapons. There is no legal opposition or political counter-balance to his policies; there is no law except his cadres. Just as Hitler purged and repressed any sane head that suggested a second global war might be a bad idea, Iran's government shuts out any discussion of changing its behavior.
Anti-Americanism- People forget that the US did not declare war on Hitler, Hitler declared war on the US- right after Pearl Harbor. Iran has been at war with the US since 1979, the regime has always avoided direct confrontation because the US was too powerful. Hitler always hated the US; Iran's government talks of destroying the US in the same breath as destroying Israel. Iran did not expect the US to respond as it did to 9-11 but nevertheless has always stated, just like Hitler, that its long term goal is to defeat the United States. Iran’s history with the US has always been troublesome. There is some bad blood between the nations; the US has mostly avoided confronting Iran while Iran’s government has never stopped using Khomeini’s catch phrase “the great Satan.” But history alone does not justify official Iran’s hatred for the US (even though most Iranians you meet love Americans). Ahmadinejad, like Khomeini and Hitler hated America for its democracy, its wealth, its power, success and egalitarian values. To the totalitarian mind, America stands in the way of their dominance; our values and system of government undermine their rule by being a living suggestion that freedom is a better alternative to the police state.
Iran’s still claims its nuclear program is peaceful despite its cost and abundant energy resources. One could sensibly wonder why they have a ballistic missile program designed to deliver nuclear warheads if they aren't also developing the warheads. One can only surmise why they want the bomb to put their words into effect. Their vitriolic language towards the US evinces a hostility befitting a wartime speech by Joseph Goebbles. This language mirror’s Hitler’s love for threatening to use weapons of terror and destruction; Hitler used every WMD he ever had.
It was mercy that Hitler never got the bomb, in the ensuing years, nuclear science has moved ahead, the bombs that shattered Nagasaki and Hiroshima are considered small by today’s standards. If one shudders to think what Hitler would have done with the bomb; the current Iranian nuclear program is the hands of people of a similar murderous ideology.
So let us now turn to the current situation and the inevitable conclusions that must be drawn by these facts.
The chief lesson of 9-11 and the Iraq war is that US intelligence is weak. We have some inkling of some of what the bad guys of this world are doing but if we can't see it or hear it, we are flying blind. US intelligence is awful at the kind of real spying that wins wars, human intelligence. The US never had a single agent of any value in Iraq during the 13 years from 1990 to Saddam's fall, it is a pretty safe assumption we have the same operational excellence in Iran. As Donald Rumsfeld put it so well, it is the “unknown unknowns” that we must worry about. Iran has been planning for the arrival of her nuclear bombs for at least ten years. They have the money and desire to develop delivery systems whose range far exceeds any military threat to their country.
For all we know, she has built and fielded a small batch of ships designed to launch a Pearl Harbor type strike on the US and Israel. Cruise launched missiles from international waters would leave no time to respond or react, such an attack could hit every major city in Israel and the biggest US coastal cities in under twenty minutes from launch to mushroom cloud. If I can think of it, so can they.
While the loss of Israel would not hurt the US losing six or seven major cities would effectively knock us out as a major power for many years and perhaps forever. Lest one think that the Iranian leadership is worried about US retaliation, they aren't. Unlike any other enemy we have ever faced, they would consider dying in a US retaliatory strike as their guarantee of paradise in the next world. They see no downside in provoking a nuclear war with the US! Mao's Communist China and the Soviet Union were rational humanitarians by comparison.
Recall earlier that Iran has two nuclear programs, the documented program has had some inspection and the Iranians were found to be lying on several key elements of what they are doing. But the undocumented program is a true "unknown unknown." Only the Iranians know how far along it is. While US scientists can give a ballpark estimate, Iran's delaying tactics against inspections and international sanctions must be assumed to mean they are further along than we think; and given the nature of the regime, we cannot afford to be wrong.
There is no political solution to the current situation. This regime is every bit as trustworthy as Hitler. You can’t trust them. They have lied about their intentions and they have dealt falsely in their nuclear discussions with the western powers. Despite repeatedly being denounced for calling for Israel's destruction and denying the holocaust, the regime's rhetoric has only intensified rather than abated. There can be no clearer statement of who they are and what they intend. They say what they do precisely because of who they are and what they really believe. Absent the regime agreeing to folding its tent in exchange for safe passage to a neutral country and establishing a new government under western supervised elections, there is only one course for dealing with Iran. War.
It is said that 90% or more of Iran's people oppose the regime. While they have exhibited spirit and courage in opposing the regime, they have not been able to make any headway to creating the massive "people power" demonstrations that might bring the regime down. The western powers and press have done a shameful job in supporting or covering the Iran situation. While there is “no time like the present” to start this revolution, America and Israeli dare not wait around while they try. Iran's nuclear facilities must be bombed immediately regardless of the price in lives, planes or cost. If this war is fought on our terms now, it can probably be won and won relatively cheaply; if it is fought later and on Iran's terms, we will regret it. The risk and potential price of the war go up every day we wait. If you take this regime for what it is, war is going to happen. We are already at war, the real question is who will strike first? In war, the overall weaker opponent is best off striking first to gain advantage over an otherwise stronger opponent; the corollary of this is that smaller and weaker powers are almost always unable to gain the upper hand after getting hit first.
Israel should be the lead off hitter. Israel can and should be part of the war and the bombing. It is Israel that is threatened with annihilation and Israel will bear the brunt of Hezbollah and Hamas retaliation, it is Israeli strikes that will most humiliate the Iranian leadership. Israel’s first strikes can do a lot but military reality cannot be ignored. The number of strikes needed to truly put the Iranian nuclear program permanently out of commission can only be sustained by the US. The sheer number of planes and sorties required and the nature and number of targets involved, mean that Israel can only do part of the job. The US has far greater ability to launch sustained multiple precision heavy bombing strikes. Nothing known to man is able to see, much less hit, a B-2 bomber. The US is the only nation equipped to see the job to completion. Israel's conventional aircraft will be operating at extreme range and vulnerable to ground fire. As losses mount, she will become unable to sustain long range strike operations. The IAF will also be quite busy interdicting Hezbollah and Syrian revenge attacks in support of Iran.
The Jewish state of Israel exists to protect the Jewish people; for her not to be on the front lines of a war for her own survival does Israel no favors. To deter future enemies, Israel must be seen to be unafraid to hit any enemy anywhere at the time of her choosing. The US is a mighty ally and, while it could frankly handle the job alone and has ample causus belli for doing so all by itself, for this fight, America must be seen to be standing in the fight side by side with Israel. The war with Iran must send a message that psychologically demolishes the enemy's ideology forever. If the US and Israel fight together and win, the entire worldwide radical terror movements will be seen to be discredited and have failed. In their world view, they should win and not be beaten by those for whom they have complete contempt. Hitler thought the Russians were beneath him too. By involving Israel directly, the US is repaid for its support of Israel over the years with the real currency of alliance- lives sacrificed for the common good against a common enemy.
Up until Hitler the Munich capitulation on Czechoslovakia, World War II was an avoidable war. For nearly seven years the western allies stood by and did nothing to stop him. They did not support the Weimar Republic, they did not ease the economic constraints of Versailles and they did not confront Hitler while he was still weak. At any of a number of critical junctures, Hitler could have been stopped. Today we have a regime openly sympathetic to Hitler and his worst deeds; and fully committed to matching his record. Like Hitler, this regime is arming for war, but unlike Hitler, this regime is close to acquiring the most dangerous weapons known to mankind, nuclear weapons. At least 40 million people perished in WWII; unless the western leaders act fast on Iran, we may well experience a war with many times more deaths. The actions and behaviors of the Ahmadinejad regime are not accidental, they are deliberate. There is nothing subtle about these brutes. They are counting on the western weakness that made WWII such a bloodbath: people in western democracies will do almost anything to avoid a war. This is the attitude that allowed Hitler to grow to become such a threat. The lesson of WWII is quite clear; there are certain regimes so belligerent that war with them is only a matter of time. When you have a regime dominated by a small group of totalitarian fanatics in thrall to a murder-minded ideology, unwaveringly seeking enormous military power, they will use their power in furtherance of their ideology, it is only a matter of time.
The ominous parallels between Ahmadinejad's Iran and Hitler's Germany support the idea that there is a species of leaders with a ruthless will to power that are a danger to humanity. When seen in conjunction with an ongoing nuclear weapons program and complete disregard for international norms, the danger these regimes present must be treated as imminent. They must never be trusted with nuclear weapons. If Iran has the Bomb, al Qaeda and Hezbollah also have the bomb. Invariably, this character type is self-identifying; the very personality that makes them so dangerous requires they openly display their true nature to the world.
Most especially, the Jewish people but should take people like this at their word and destroy them first.
The current government of Iran will be in an open shooting war before 2006 is over. This confrontation has been coming for a long, time, let us hope that the US and Israel strike first and achieve a swift and decisive victory. But we should be most mindful mindful of the necessity of this war, the sobering thought of the price the world will pay if nothing is done. The west faces its greatest threat since August 1939; the nature of the threat is clear and the way to deal with the threat is also clear. What is not clear is whether the western nations have the resolve to see the threat for what it is and the will to act accordingly.
There is no joy in advocating a war that will certainly see many people die, the only consolation is knowing that far many more will die if Iran actually gets its hands on the bomb.
Supporting Links:Ahmadinejad's Apocalyptic Religious BeliefsMore on Ahmadinejad's Apocalyptic Religious BeliefsPolicy of Detente Is Not Forceful Enough