Response to Uri Avnery, “Was Netanyahu Iran’s Nuclear Dupe?, Counterpunch, 17 July 2015, www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/17/was-netanyahu-irans-nuclear-dupe/.
by Gordon M. Hahn
According to Uri Avnery’s recent article “Was Netanyahu Iran’s Nuclear Dupe?”, post-1979 Iran’s Mullah-run Islamist state remains the wily Persia of yore: “unequaled”, “wily” and “clever” traders and descendants of “one of the oldest powers in the world, with thousands of years of political experience.” This is a far cry from reality and constitutes dangerous wishful thinking.
Today’s Iran is much more than old Persia. Indeed, Islamic Iran’s add-ons to Persia marked a fundamental break from Persian history. Yet, for Avnery the fact that more than a millennium ago Persia “spanned the civilized world” is somehow relevant today. Less relevant is the fact that today’s Iran opposes the civilized world by its stoning of female adulterers, rape victims, gays, by its support for terrorism, and by its professed intent to commit genocide against the Jews of Israel.
The author claims: “They are much too clever to build a nuclear weapon. What for? It would devour huge amounts of money.” If Iran is duping Israel and does not want to spend enormous sums on developing a nuclear weapon, why have they been doing so for decades?
Iran’s “hard-boiled realists,” in the author’s view, “know that they would never be able to use (nuclear weapons). Same as Israel, with its large stockpile.” In fact, rather than being a realpolitik wheeler and dealer, Iran is a theo-ideological state that has an apocalyptic view that the end times require a holocaust to bring back the ‘mahdi’ or Islamic savior. Thus, it seeks to overthrow the status quo especially in “little” Israel, as the author so patriotically describes his own country in comparison with great Iran. In fact, later in the article, the author notes in passing that the “mullahs hate Israel,” but naturally he claims without demonstrating that this has nothing to do with religion.”
The purpose of Israel’s nuclear forces is to deter another Arab invasion from multiple fronts, and the purpose of any Iranian nuclear force would be to negate that deterrence. For the author, the “ignorant dilettante” Netanyuha is the non-rational suffering from delusional ‘nightmares’ or ‘daymares’ in contrast to hard-boiled realist mullahs. Moreover, “Netanyahu should be charged and convicted for criminal negligence” if Israeli’s deterrent capability that the author would allow Iran to erase proves “defective.”
Ultimately, it is the author who proves extremely cavalier with regard to Israeli’s security, for (e)ven if the Iranians did deceive the whole world and build a nuclear bomb, nothing would happen except the creation of a “balance of terror” of the kind that “saved the world at the height of the cold war between America and Russia” (sic, Soviet Union). This is odd since liberals like the author were constantly ranting about the world being a minute from midnight’ – nuclear war being imminent – and demanding disarmament.
For this Israeli (!), “(s)ince their 1979 revolution, the Iranian leadership has not made one single important step that was not absolutely rational. Compared to American missteps in the region (not to mention the Israeli ones), the Iranian leadership has been thoroughly logical.” Thus, for this ‘Israeli’, it is possible to write off Tehran’s support for Hezbollah (which he later mentions and downplays) and other terrorists, who have as their goal Israel’s destruction and have repeatedly lobbed missiles into his country. The same goes for the author’s next piece of nonsense: “What has the Islamic Republic ever done in its 45 years of existence to harm Israel?” Imagine what they will do with nuclear and other capabilities the acquisition of which will be facilitated by this agreement’s nuclear, sanctions, and other stipulations.
The author argues that “Iran’s real fight is against the powers that be in the Muslim world. They want to turn the region’s countries into Iranian vassals, as they were 2400 years ago.
Iran’s goal of Muslim supremacy, according to the author “has very little to do with Islam. Iran uses Islam as Israel uses Zionism and the Jewish Diaspora (and as Russia in the past used communism) as a tool for its imperial ambitions.” It apparently never entered the author’s mind that this is one of Iran’s goals, and both its chief goals – supremacy in the Islamic world and Israel’s destruction go hand-in-hand. The former will facilitate Iran’s destruction of Israel, and the latter will facilitate Iranian and Shiite supremacy in the Muslim world. Moreover, could the author please clarify what exactly are “little” Israel’s ‘imperial ambitions’?!
Next we come to what is truly the death knell of the West: liberals’ and leftists’ treatment of Western conservatives as a greater enemy than those who would destroy the West: “The US, led by a bunch of neocon fools, destroyed Iraq, which for many centuries had served as the bulwark of the Arab world against Iranian expansion. Now, under the banner of the Shia, Iran is expanding its power all over the Region.” The author needs to be reminded that American foreign policy is the purview of the US president, who happens to be a socialist, not a neocon. The same is true for Obama’s helpers such as Samantha Power, Susan Rice, etc. Although there are neocons in position to influence policy – as they have to great detriment in Ukraine – the American left stands strongly behind ‘humanitarian interventionism’ and ‘democracy-promotion’ as do neocons.
Ignoring the numbers and thus the balance of power, the author hails Iran and its allies as “the wave of the future,” with the increasingly flexible Saudis along with their Sunni allies belonging to the past. The author then seems to contradict himself by saying that “(u)nlike Iran, whose revolutionary élan long ago exhausted itself,” the Islamic State (IS) or Daesh is radiating revolutionary fervor, attracting adherents from all over the world” and is the real enemy of both Israel and Iran. The author naturally believes that the all-seeing, all-knowing US President Barack Obama, who has not a single original policy success to his name, realized the IS threat to Iran and Israel “some time ago” and hence has shifted to an alliance with Iran. Presumably, it was after he referred to it as the “junior varsity team.”
The same president who cannot bring himself to even hint that IS and Al Qa`ida are Islamists driven by ideology, is (f)ar from being naïve, according to the author and “is building an alliance with Iran that “should logically include Bashar Assad’s Syria, but Obama is still afraid of saying so aloud.” That’s odd, because the US is still providing weapons to the Syrian opposition and at one time was apparently even sending them to jihadists than allied with IS.
The author claims that “Obama and his advisors also believe that with the lifting of the crippling sanctions, Iranians will concentrate on making money, lessening their nationalist and religious fervor even more. That sounds reasonable enough.” It does, but that is precisely the opposite policy from that the Obama administration is carrying out in relation to Russia. In that case, sanctions are intended to restrain Putin’s alleged nationalism.
It seems that a repeal of sanctions and actions to demonstrate an alliance with Iran should have been enough to get stronger guarantees regarding inspections, which will be conducted at Tehran’s whim.
The author claims that by opposing the Vienna treaty, Israel has opposed “the entire world.” In fact, the Saudis and much of the Sunni world opposes the treaty precisely because of the treaty’s shockingly weak inspections regime and will be entering an arms race in response. Thus, if IS overthrows the Saudis some time down the road, it may get radiological or nuclear means in the bargain. Moreover, US public opinion is not in favor of the treaty.
Rather than bemoaning Israel’s Netanyahu and America’s supposedly “reactionary Republican leadership,” the author would do well to examine the views of President Obama’s friends past and present, which include those always Israeli-friendly communists, radical Palestinians, and anti-Semitic preachers.
Gordon M. Hahn is an Analyst and Advisory Board Member of the Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, Illinois; Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California Analyst/Consultant, Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch; and Senior Researcher and Adjunct Professor, MonTREP, Monterey, California. Dr Hahn is author of three well-received books, Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), which was named an outstanding title of 2007 by Choice magazine, and The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014). He also has authored hundreds of articles in scholarly journals and other publications on Russian, Eurasian and international politics and wrote, edited and published the Islam, Islamism, and Politics in Eurasia Report at CSIS from 2010-2013. Dr. Hahn has been a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (2011-2013) and a Visiting Scholar at both the Hoover Institution and the Kennan Institute.