An Iran Breakthrough?

Iranian President Rouhani

Iranian President Rouhani

Fresh off a diplomatic victory concerning Syria, the United States may be on the verge of making significant headway in solving the most vexing foreign policy problem of the last 34 years – what to do about Iran?   From the 1979 hostage crisis to near war over Iran’s alleged nuclear program, the ability of Iran’s clerics to plot a Machiavellian course to expand regional power has given American policy makers headaches.   President Obama, whose foreign policy successes are growing, may have another victory in reach.  If so, this will go further in turning around the narrative on Syria.   Rather than being outplayed by Putin, Obama may have one of the most significant diplomatic victories since the end of the Cold War.

Many people were surprised when Hassan Rouhani won the June 2013 Presidential election in Iran.  A moderate, he espoused closer relations with the West, more civil liberties and economic reform.   Gone are the days of bombast from former President Ahmadinejad.   No more talk about wiping Israel off the map; instead, Rouhani went to the United Nations to proclaim that no state should have nuclear weapons, and there was no room in Iran for nuclear arms.   This clears the way for a deal to end the tense stand off that’s been brewing for over a decade about Iran’s alleged arms program.

Ayatollah Khamanei, Iran's Supreme Leader, still holds most of the power

Ayatollah Khamanei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, still holds most of the power

That election was proof that however powerful the Iranian clerics are, Iran is still an emerging democracy.  Rouhani was not the choice of Supreme Leader Khamanei, yet he won narrowly in the first round.  If the elections were rigged, he’d have at least fallen short of the 50% to prevent a second round of voting.   Moreover, Iran’s clerics realize that they could lose power in a heartbeat if the Iranian people rebelled against their authority.   From 1979 to 2004 there was a gradual liberalization of Iranian life allowed by the clerics because they didn’t want to foment dissent.

In 2004 that all changed; conservatives gained a majority for the first time in the Majles (parliament), and conservative Ahmadinejad won the Presidency.   It appeared Iran had changed course and was on a dangerous anti-western trajectory.   In hindsight that may have been a short term boost to the conservatives by anger at the US invasion of Iraq.   As that ill fated war fades into history, the Iranians appear to be moving again towards becoming a more liberal Islamic Republic.

So what next?

Unmeet

With high level talks between Secretary of State Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif already underway at the United Nations Security Council, the path will be a gradual easing of tensions alongside trust building agreements that could ultimately yield an agreement for Iran to not only end its nuclear program, but allow inspectors to verify its conclusion.   That has not yet happened of course, things could still go south.   Still, this is a major breakthrough and there is reason to think it’s the real thing.

If so, it’s a very good thing that the US did not choose to attack Iran back in the heyday of Ahmadinejad’s bombast.   He’s gone, Iran’s gradually changing as its large youth population ages into adulthood, and the consequences of going to war with Iran could have been catastrophic.   The Pentagon thought so – they war gamed it out, and saw considerable danger in attacking Iran.  The hawks on Iran will be proven to have been wrong.

The agreement to force Assad of Syria to give up chemical weapons is also important.  Iran saw Russia and the US work together, and recognize that despite rivalry between the two former Cold War foes, both share an interest in not allowing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.   This is far more effective than a US strike against Syria which would have probably done more to show post-Iraq impotence on the part of the Americans than anything Iran would fear.

Most important, though, is the changes taking place in Iran itself.  The country has a population with a strong pro-Western streak, well educated and modern.   The youth are demanding change.   The same dynamic is taking place in Iran as in the Arab Spring, except Iran already has an emerging democracy and more liberal population.   It’s clerical class has proven less extremist than pragmatic.

In short, a thaw in the tension with Iran may be a sign that Muslim extremism is also on the wane.    Iran is a model of an Islamic Republic, mixing religion and democracy.   A stable Iran could help the Iraqis get their democracy back on track, and ultimately be extremely important for the entire region.

We aren’t there yet, but the fruits of Obama’s foreign policy are starting to become evident.   He didn’t really deserve the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, but by the time he leaves office the world will likely in much better condition.

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  1. #1 by lbwoodgate on September 27, 2013 - 15:05

    I’m in agreement with you here Scott. Obama’s enemies want to make a big deal out of his reluctance to follow through with his military strike threat on Syria but his pause to reconsider this may well turn out to be a very big deal towards lowering tensions in this region.

  2. #2 by Snoring Dog Studio on September 28, 2013 - 08:02

    Agree, Scott. This will be quite the feather in Obama’s cap. He’s showing the wise, careful and thoughtful behavior that every President should display. Perhaps this experience will show our detractors and enemies throughout the globe that the U.S. isn’t into nation-building anymore.

  3. #3 by SShiell on September 28, 2013 - 13:16

    And I bet Obama even has his own version of “Plan Z” in his back pocket that he is convinced will win the day!
    http://pjmedia.com/blog/umbrella-men/

  4. #4 by thenewamericanlondoner on September 28, 2013 - 14:41

    I was skeptical initially Scott, but it’s hard not to look at the cover of today’s Guardian and not admit that Obama is clearly scoring big right now. Great post. Clearly you have political prescience.

  5. #5 by Alan Scott on September 28, 2013 - 21:54

    SShiell,

    You and I are the only ones who remember poor old Neville. Now that there is a possible Iran breakthrough, I plan to listen to Neville and ” Go home and get a nice quiet sleep . “

    • #6 by SShiell on September 29, 2013 - 11:30

      Alan:
      Back in the 80s, one of the standard jokes regarding Iran was:
      What’s an Iranian “moderate”? An Iranian who’s run out of ammunition.

      Today’s version might run something like this:
      What’s an Iranian “moderate”? An Iranian who needs sanctions lifted so he can buy just a few more centrifuges. . .

      Time will tell . . .

      • #7 by lbwoodgate on October 1, 2013 - 05:52

        Sounds a lot like the white man’s bad joke back in the 19th century that thought the only good indian was a dead indian. We all come up with the imagery we need to justify our imperialists/militarists inclinations.

  6. #8 by Matt Finucane on September 29, 2013 - 15:12

    Great post, although the prospects of a closer relationship between Iran and the US are pretty dim; Obama is so bound by hardliners and (partially) the Israel lobby—those that mirror Netanyahu’s intransigence—that it seems unlikely any deal over nuclear power will be reached. The Iranians will not accept embarrassment, and too many people stateside are unwilling to make any compromises on total disarmament.

  7. #9 by Alan Scott on September 30, 2013 - 21:06

    SShiell,

    Good to hear from a fellow traveler. Everyone else here on the road through Oz seems to believe that any piece of paper is worth any price. I remember Neville waving his piece of paper to the press. So proud he was to show them his name beside the Chancellor’s.

  8. #10 by Scott Erb on October 1, 2013 - 06:55

    Comparing Iran to Hitler makes no sense. The Guardian Council has 30 years of Machiavellian but rational foreign policy making, focused on being a regional player. Rouhani is definitely not anywhere close to a Hitler. So comparisons with Chamberlain are silly at best. And given that there is no real alternative short of a really unnecessary war, which would be really dangerous for the US and not serve our interests, well, diplomacy is the best option. And Iran is changing domestically.

    • #11 by SShiell on October 1, 2013 - 07:30

      Time will tell . . .

      • #12 by Scott Erb on October 1, 2013 - 07:33

        It always does, and one way or another, it will leave lessons behind…

  9. #13 by thenewamericanlondoner on October 1, 2013 - 17:10

    Plus, Godwin’s Law and it’s implications: if you can’t make the argument without Hitler, does it really stand up to scrutiny at all? There’s really not much of a comparison here.

  10. #14 by Alan Scott on October 2, 2013 - 17:06

    Scott,

    I respectfully disagree with you. The difference between Iran today and Germany in 1938 is more of military competence than intent. If you were to delve into the backgrounds of Rouhani and those around him you would see more of what I am talking about.

    And as far as the Obama comparison with Chamberlain, I do not see where I am wrong. Both men pretty much would pay any price to avoid war. Which calls to mind a saying attributed to Winston Churchill. ” An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last. ”

    The Israeli Prime Minister was just speaking about Iran and I am happy to agree with him.

    • #15 by lbwoodgate on October 2, 2013 - 18:57

      Alan, there are so many non-comparison’s between today’s Iran and Hitler’s Germany that it’s hard to know where to begin. But let’s try this.

      Back when Chamberlain was “negotiating” with Hitler, the German army had already been built up to the point where it surpassed most Western European armies. Even the U.S. Army in 1938-39 looked pretty small compared to Hitler’s war machine.

      So are you comparing the largest war machine on the face of the earth today with what Iran has and that we should go in and nuke them before they over run the middle east?

      • #16 by SShiell on October 2, 2013 - 23:31

        “. . . the German army had already been built up to the point where it surpassed most Western European armies.”

        Well as you say, let’s begin! in 1938 France was regarded as the greatest military power of Western Europe. Not Germany! France had more men under arms, more tanks and more aircraft than Germany could field in 1938. France also had their Maginot Line, an infamously ineffective barrier against armored formations but in the day it was considered a game changer. Chamberlain also knew Hitler would have to go through France to really threaten England.

        Later, in 1940, with The Non-Aggression Pact with the USSR protecting his rear, Hitler put all of his forces against France. And even with virtually his entire Army and Luftwaffe lined up for the invasion of France, he was outnumbered by France alone in numbers of men, tanks and aircraft. Added to that 10 division of British troops and the Belgium Army (for what it was) and the Allies of the day easily outnumbered whatever Herr Hitler could bring to bear. Blitzkrieg tactics, not the size of his army, carried the day for the Germans.

        And for your information, the US Army was small – pitifully small compared to Belgium in 1938. So small and ineffective, that Roosevelt instituted the Draft in 1940 in order to put 1,000,000 additional men under arms. And those men were so poorly equipped they were constrained by training with mop handles for rifles and cardboard cutouts mounted on tractors simulating tanks as late as the national war games of the spring of 1941.

        Only the US Navy was considered a formidable force to be reckoned with in 1938. But, in those days, that was based upon their 16 Battleships – the real power of the aircraft carrier was not fully realized until the Japanese initially showed the world what they could do with them against us at Pearl Harbor and later against the British battleships Repulse and Prince of Wales off Singapore.

        It does not matter the size of your army. It does not matter the technological superiority you may have on the battlefield. What does matter is whether you have the will – the moral fiber and deep down guts, militarily and politically – to do what is necessary. And that is where the Iranians feel they have an advantage over any infidel.

      • #17 by lbwoodgate on October 3, 2013 - 12:14

        ”in 1938 France was regarded as the greatest military power of Western Europe.”

        Perhaps in terms of sheer numbers of manpower and even ships but according to the World Association of International Studies Germany had far greater air power than France including some 335 dive bombers to which France had zip.

        Keep in mind too Alan that unlike Great Britain and France, Germany didn’t have a global empire to keep secure so half of the French and British troops were scattered around the world where Germany’s army was concentrated in der fatherland. That would make them militarily more stronger than France or Great Britain on the European continent.

        Also, despite size of armies, firepower was basically the same. There was no advanced technology to give one an upper hand, though of course both sides were trying to develop atomic weapons which came too late for Germany and Japan. In the western powers arsenal today there are drones, stealth and missile capabilities that would overwhelm what weapons Iran possesses.

        ” It does not matter the size of your army. It does not matter the technological superiority you may have on the battlefield.”

        Bullshit! Will alone will not carry the day for an Iran who lack the technological advances held by the the U.S. and their NATO allies. They may get a rocket or two off but sheer Western firepower will overcome anything they currently possess. Once that happens then the gloves are off and the U.S. will send in everything they have along with what Israel has. Iran knows this and because they do they are not willing to risk it all for a few lucky strikes in their region. Remember, Iran can’t reliably expect all Muslim nations to come to their support if they start a nuclear war, especially their inter-religion rivals, the Sunnis in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

        ” What does matter is whether you have the will – the moral fiber and deep down guts, militarily and politically – to do what is necessary. And that is where the Iranians feel they have an advantage over any infidel.”

        I wouldn’t disagree with the motivational power of the public will but you exaggerate the claim that the Iranian public has this death wish to engage the U.S. Intelligence shows that there is a large percentage of the population who want to avoid war and are willing to make concessions to not only have the sanctions removed but begin a process of peace that eases tensions in this region.

        Perhaps you are confusing the will of Islamic jihadist determined to eradicate the infidels, thinking that they all reside in Iran. They don’t. Many in Iran abhor the inhumane practices of these extremists. You are also probably dismissing how quickly the will of Americans and their allies can reenergize itself if it has to. Our history has proven this over and over again.

        There are clearly conditions that we need to safeguard against lest we fail to react in a timely manner to prevent any aggressive moves on Iran’s part but you seem to think that only Obama controls the conversation about a mideast policy. He, like every president has to rely on their military advisors and Obama has shown no reluctance to use force if the military strategists have provided a viable plan to do so.

        Your not the only one who has concerns about contingencies at play here. There are experts in the the various fields who have all this information along with the president’s ear. You feelings about Obama are just that. Based on what you think he will or won’t do as determined by your contempt for him. He’s smarter than you give him credit for and that will become apparent in time.

        Just because he’s not the military hawk you think the commander-in-chief should be doesn’t mean he is incapable of preventing any kind of Hitler like take over of the mideast. It will not be massive military strength that transitions this part of the world like that which was attempted in the 20th century. It will be the drive of emulate what the democracies in this world have, even if it doesn’t fit our western version.

      • #18 by lbwoodgate on October 3, 2013 - 12:16

        Forgot to include the World Association of International Studies information source. You can find it here

      • #19 by lbwoodgate on October 3, 2013 - 12:21

        Scott,

        I had a few grammatical errors in my response to Alan near the end, including this one: ” It will be the drive of emulate what the democracies in this world have, even if it doesn’t fit our western version.” I of course meant to say It will be the drive TO emulate what the democracies in this world have…

        Could you correct those for me please.

      • #20 by SShiell on October 3, 2013 - 16:48

        Woody:
        From the reference you cite:

        “The inferiority of the German forces was even greater in 1938. Germany was still suffering from the severe limitations imposed on its strategic armaments after WWI; in fact, many German weapons systems were secretly developed inside the Soviet Union during the 1920s.”

        Next time check your references before you spout off.

    • #21 by Scott Erb on October 2, 2013 - 19:18

      Chamberlain and the Conservatives embraced appeasement because they thought the Soviet Union and Communism was a bigger threat. Appeasement was NOT to give Hitler anything he wanted to avoid war, but instead to try to undo the unfair aspects of the Versailles Treaty to get Germany to embrace the system. Hitler’s goal after being temporarily blinded at the end of the war, was always to refight WWI but not make the same mistakes (job one was to jail the liberals, internationalists, pacifists, socialists and Jews who he felt stabbed Germany in the back by wanting to end WWI).

      Iran is governed by a rational conservative group of clerics who have shown no inclination towards imperialism or conquest – they know they can’t gain anything that way. They do have a stated enemy, Israel, with over 300 nuclear weapons. They know Israel could destroy them. But Alan, if you led a country an a potential enemy had massive numbers of nuclear weapons, wouldn’t you be tempted to get some as a deterrent?

      • #22 by SShiell on October 2, 2013 - 23:00

        First, Chamberlain and company may have feared the Soviet Union but they also depended upon them to be the counter weight against Hitler. That hope was dashed in 1939 with the Non-Aggression Pact and the resultant dismembering of Poland by Germany and the USSR.

        Second, the pacifists of Western Europe, fearing that anything was better than a repeat of the horrors of the Great War, were willing to give Hitler anything he wanted to avoid any such recurrence. Chamberlain was, to be fair to the man, hamstrung by France which was dominated by this horror of war. This concept of undoing the unfair aspects of the Versailles Treaty was just a cynical rationalization for their appeasement.

        Iran is not go0verned by any such group of conservative clerics but rather by cynical realists. They know they will only be demonized the rest of the Arab world if they, Persians, were to move beyond their borders. That is why they do this through their client entities such as Hezbollah and export their “rational conservatism” through Revolutionary Guard units like the ones fighting in support of Abbas in Syria.

        And as far as Iran defending themselves against the naked aggression of the potential aggression of Israel, that is just BS. The next thing you will be parroting the White House’s fable of the Iranian Fatwa against nuclear Weapons! LOL!!!

    • #23 by SShiell on October 3, 2013 - 16:47

      Woody:
      From the reference you cite:

      “The inferiority of the German forces was even greater in 1938. Germany was still suffering from the severe limitations imposed on its strategic armaments after WWI; in fact, many German weapons systems were secretly developed inside the Soviet Union during the 1920s.”

      Next time check your references before you spout off.

      • #24 by lbwoodgate on October 3, 2013 - 18:42

        Alan,
        “Next time check your references before you spout off.”

        And yet by 1939 they had greater air power than their French adversaries. Next time don’t cherry pick your references to support your weak premises.

        Your use of data and numbers doesn’t support your contentions that the sheer will of the Iranians will best everything the U.S. and their allies have, ignoring that the “infidels” are capable of generating a determined will of their own and that Iran’s common enemies within Islam, the Sunnis, cannot be relied upon to support them in a war on the west.

      • #25 by SShiell on October 3, 2013 - 20:50

        I quoted “The inferiority of the German forces was even greater in 1938.” I never said 1939. And the cherry picked reference was the one you put on the table. I just quoted from what you linked to. And I never proposed Sunni support for Iran in any conflict.

        And for your information, will has a place in any conflict. Example: The Vietnamese could in no way compare in military might to the US but their sheer will to persevere won out in the long run in that disastrous conflict. Or do you dispute that?

        And with that I am through with this conversation.
        Cheers, Woody!

  11. #26 by Scott Erb on October 3, 2013 - 03:44

    France was not considered the major power by 1938 – the French were seen as weak due to internal political problems, and they relied on the British (Daladier did not want the Munich agreement of 1938, but he had to follow the Brits). British Conservatives thought if they gave Hitler equality in the system, he’d be a bulwark against Communism. You are absolutely right that the non-aggression pact shocked them and after that was signed everyone knew war was imminent (they knew that really after Hitler took the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939). I agree with most of what you say, but seriously, how can you dismiss Iranian fears of Israel? Israel has openly threatened Iran, and Israel has a massive nuclear arsenal – how does that not create an incentive for Iran to pursue nuclear weapons? You poo-poo that, SShiell, but logically, it seems that any state in Iran’s position would be threatened by Israeli power.

    • #27 by SShiell on October 3, 2013 - 07:46

      Iranian fears of Israel? Who started calling for who to be wiped off the map? I don’t recall Israel telling Iran they have no basis for existence, can you? Show me where Israel has empowered a client entity that resides on Iran’s border and carries out, attempts, or threatens violent incursions – can you spell Hezbollah?

      And I do not recall any Israeli threats to Iran until after Iran began its push to acquiring/developing nuclear weaponry – and only then in self defense. Can you? If so, care to show me?

      Take a look at a map from the perspective of a nuclear attack on Israel. Four (4!!!) strategically placed nuclear devices would completely destroy the country. Israel cannot allow a country that openly calls for its destruction to obtain/possess nuclear weaponry. Rafsanjani, three Iranian Presidents ago, stated that he would be willing to take on Israel in a nuclear exchange – and he was a “moderate”!!! And the current Iranian president was Rafsanjani’s chief
      nuclear negotiator.

      But to read your words, all of a sudden Iran is the injured party? Who’s poo-pooing what here, Erb?

    • #28 by SShiell on October 3, 2013 - 08:06

      “France was not considered the major power by 1938.”

      Documentation of the day portrays a far different story. One of the most respected defense publications, Jane’s (Jane’s Information Group – who has published military analysis since 1898) stated something completely different in their various 1938 documentations. Militarily, France’s Army was rated second only to that of the USSR (USSR was rated so highly because this was before their debacle of the 1939 Winter War fiasco with Finland), their Navy was third behind Great Britain and the USA and equal to that of Japan, and their Air Force was rated an equal to that of Germany.

      Along with that was, in hindsight greatly over-rated, the Maginot Line, which to the analysts of the day represented an impassable barrier barrier opposing any possible direct German aggression.

      In hindsight, France’s military was indeed pretty pitiful. Their reliance on the defensive capabilities of Maginot Line limited their development of other more effective weaponry such as more modern tanks and aircraft, which ultimately, along with proper tactical application (blitzkrieg) meant the difference in 1940.

      • #29 by Scott Erb on October 3, 2013 - 08:21

        The French popular front fell apart and politically France was in chaos by 1938. Daladier led a fragile coalition, but the will to actually prepare for war was low. De Gaulle tried to arrange a last minute unification of France and the UK, but that failed too. The quickness with which the Germany army defeated the French testifies to this. Politically, everyone knew France was paralyzed – and had a strong pro-fascist movement. Daladier could not stand up to Chamberlain on Czechoslovakia for that reason, the French had built the Czech defenses and knew what gift they were giving the German army, but the French were too weak politically and internally to guide policy.

      • #30 by Scott Erb on October 3, 2013 - 08:24

        Thought experiment: compare the militaries of the US and North Vietnam in 1965. Clearly the US was dominant, even if they did not want to use nuclear weapons in fear of igniting a world war (a legitimate fear). That’s why LBJ could never understand why he couldn’t win, even though he gave Westmoreland everything the General asked for. LBJ would say “the world’s greatest country is not going to be defeated by some raggedy ass fourth rate dictator…we’re going to grab Ho by the balls until he screams uncle.” But politically the US was in a no-win situation – and it took awhile for that to sink in. Kissinger understood that, and helped Nixon navigate a face saving way out of that conflict.

      • #31 by Scott Erb on October 3, 2013 - 08:29

        One thing more – the Tet offensive is a clear example. The North got defeated in every military sense of the word, but politically it won the war for them.

      • #32 by SShiell on October 3, 2013 - 10:35

        You are just emphasizing the points I made previously – See the last paragraph of comment #16. Military power aside, it is the political will of the country that will win over. And to the Iranians, they believe they have that advantage.

        Thought experiment – the US and Viet Nam comparison have nothing in common with this situation. Tet offensive notwithstanding. End of experiment.

  12. #33 by Scott Erb on October 3, 2013 - 08:00

    You’re reading too much into this, I’m not taking sides. I note that there is a rivalry (regardless of who started it – both sides point the finger, I don’t care), and that both Israel and Iran have legitimate security interests. Just as Pakistan was motivated to produce the bomb after India got one (again, regardless of ‘who started it’), it’s rational and natural for Iran to want to deter Israel from any potential attack. That said, neither country wants war. The Iranian clerics know it will be the end of the Islamic Republic if they attacked, the Israelis know that Iran can do real harm. So the best result is to use diplomacy to relax tensions.

    I don’t think Iran wants nuclear weapons, but do want to get something in exchange for ending their program. The new Russian-US cooperation against WMD also sends Iran a message. The Iranian government isn’t evil – it is a democracy, even if not fully formed. Their self-interest is to be a regional power, but not war. The US would find war with Iran very damaging to our interests. So this breakthrough should be recognized.

    Sure, one can imagine lots of things to fear (people do that in life all the time). You can imagine Iran as Hitler like, but that’s very, very, very unlikely given the evidence. Fear can lead to very bad places – and fear leading to war would not be rational in this circumstance. Better to try the diplomatic route and welcome this opening and see where it goes. Sure, your cynicism may prove justified, but at this point it’s a positive step.

    • #34 by SShiell on October 3, 2013 - 08:24

      I never said to abandon diplomacy. Not once.

      India – Pakistan is not a very good comparison. Israel and Iran have not fought numerous wars over the past half century. Israel and Iran do not have territorial disputes between them. The only comparison is their religious antipathy toward each other.

      I have only maintained there must be more than this “Kum-By-Ya” attitude toward Iran. Just because the new Iranian President says softer words that his predecessor, does not mean Iran has become the reformed world player you seem to want to believe.

      The day after Obama and Rouhani had their “historic” phone conversation, the Wall Street Journal reported on the Iranian’s hacking of the US Navy – the type of action considered by many to be an act of war. That is not the action of a kinder, gentler, reformed Iran.

      And I find it curious that for a country that does not want something, they are trying awfully hard to get that something. They are working really hard, even willing to endure economic sanctions imposed by most of the rest of the world, to acquire nuclear weapons. And all to defend themselves from a country that posed no threat to them at all until the day they began their quest for these very weapons.

      I would say my cynicism is more than justified.

  13. #35 by Scott Erb on October 3, 2013 - 10:48

    Hacking between countries is going on all the time – including by the US. It’s part of the game – seriously, if we do it, can we expect them not to? They’re acting like a regional power, which is what they are. I’m not expecting them to be ‘kinder, gentler,’ I just am convinced they aren’t going to start a war – though given the threats against them by the US and Israel over the last few years, they’re being rational to prepare for the possibility. As far as Iranian political will is concerned, the country is not solidly behind any course of confrontation. The 2013 election proved that the people are wanting change. I’ve got a lot of hope for Iran to continue moving slowly towards democracy. I think fear of Iran is misplaced, sure contain and be vigilant, but war is in nobody’s interest, including the Israelis and Iranians. I do think Iran believed Israel was a threat before they thought about nuclear weapons, and that’s one reason why they have considered producing them. I have doubts that Iran will actually produce any. But if they do, deterrence works.

  14. #36 by Alan Scott on October 3, 2013 - 21:43

    Gentlemen,

    I thank you for conversing on my favorite topic WW2. Everyone apparently has a good deal of knowledge on the subject. I think however that you Scott and you Ibwoodgate, tend to gloss over my central point. Germany could not be trusted to keep it’s agreements. Chamberlain was a fool for trusting a piece of paper. President Obama would be equally foolish to believe that Iran would ever keep it’s promises. Once Iran gets a nuclear weapon it can blackmail the whole middle east.

    Israel sees what others blind themselves to.

    • #37 by Scott Erb on October 3, 2013 - 21:53

      Hindsight has 20/20 vision. Hitler fooled a lot of people; he said he was like Bismarck, just wanted Germany to be treated fairly and then he’d uphold the system. So soon after WWI, a war countries too eagerly threw themselves into, it made sense to try to avoid war. Chamberlain’s policies would have worked with almost any other German leader – they’d have been brilliant with Stresemann in the 1920’s. But Hitler was still the WWI vet who was ceased with anger when he heard of the surrender, and vowed to go into politics with the goal of re-fighting the war and this time winning. He started Germany in war prep by 1935. France was overstretched by its empire and internally weak, the war prep in Germany was fast paced (and I suspect under estimated by those assessing military power back during the time). At least with the appeasement policy of the British conservatives, it was clear that Hitler was the main force driving for war – it wasn’t like WWI when it appeared to be the result of the system. But I can’t see much reason to compare Iran to Germany – there just aren’t any real similarities.

    • #38 by lbwoodgate on October 4, 2013 - 06:28

      “Once Iran gets a nuclear weapon it can blackmail the whole middle east.”

      I think that’s a fear more than a reality Alan. If that were the case then why haven’t we seen evidence of blackmail from the Pakistanis and the Israelis. Having a nuclear weapon means you become a member of the MAD club – mutually assured destruction. IF Iran turns out to be developing a nuclear weapon rather than the means for nuclear energy as they claim, they too would have to understand that any action they threaten with nuclear weapons only ensures their own destruction

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