Saturday, April 15, 2006

Peters' Principle on Iran

Ralph Peters, author and retired military officer, penned an op-ed piece in the New York Post last weekend. In "Does Iran Want War?", Peters (pictured) attempts to convey his belief that Iran is well on its way to drawing the U.S. into a military confrontation, one that should end with Iran being pummeled unmercifully by American military might.

Aside from the fact that Peters' essay makes it seem like he's a card-carrying member of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), his descriptions of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad easily could be construed as representative of President Bush, as well.

THE most dangerous error we could make in our sharpening confrontation with Iran is to convince ourselves that its leaders will act rationally. Few wars are rooted in dispassionate analysis. Self-delusion sparks most such catastrophes.

In the context of the United States' attack on Iraq, these words do ring true. Irrational self-delusion and cooked - rather than dispassionate - analysis led the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal to wage an unnecessary and costly war.

Given that historical record, what should we expect of a radical-theocrat regime that has no serious grasp of American psychology, that rules an embittered populace it longs to excite and unify, and that believes it's literally on a mission from God?

Radical-theocrat regime? An embittered populace? On a mission from God? Sound familiar?

Given the closed nature of Iran's ruling clique, it's impossible to know. The most-probable situation is that differing factions within the leadership are at different stages of willingness for war, with some ready to fight and others fearful. Cooler heads may prevail - but "cooler heads" is a relative term in Tehran.

Have the inner-circle Iranian leaders replicated yesteryear's decision-making process of Osama bin Laden and his deputies in their Afghan camps - a hothouse atmosphere in which limited evidence was processed selectively and mutual-enablers convinced each other that a few attacks on American landmarks would drive Washington into a global retreat?

Sounds eerily like the current U.S. administration and its infamously insulated President. The neo-con, PNAC crowd that wants to conquer the world has proven to be too much for most of the "cooler", diplomatic heads in Washington. Attack first and ask questions later is their modus operandi.

Limited evidence that was processed selectively? Mutual enablers convincing each other to attack? Hmmmm.

Whether or not President Ahmadinejad is a madman, he speaks like one. He has no past experience of global statecraft and no grasp of the different mental and moral structures of other civilizations. The extent to which his ability to calculate objectively has been suppressed by a psychological addiction to religious extremism remains an open question. But the portents look bleak.

If that doesn't describe President Bush to a tee, I don't know what does.

Clearly, Peters' view of Iran and its leader is not dissimilar from the reality of our own leadership. And perhaps that's where this entire situation turns grave. When you have leaders on opposite sides who display similar deficiencies of character and wisdom, the result cannot be anything but bad. Mutual megalomania infused with a dangerous elixir of religious and ideological insanity doesn't bode well for a peaceful, globally-beneficial solution.

Peters concludes his piece with a call for gruesome aggression against Iran.

If we're pulled into war, we need to strike hard and fast - before Iran's allies can make mischief in international forums. We should destroy as much of Tehran's nuclear infrastructure as possible, eliminate its air force and air defenses and wreck its naval facilities beyond repair - no matter the collateral damage. (Peters' emphasis, not mine) The madmen in Tehran must pay an unbearable price.


But a half-hearted military response to Iranian aggression would only strengthen the confidence of our enemies and invite future confrontations.

We pulled too many punches in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and now we're paying the price. If Tehran drags us into war, we should make the conflict so devastating and painful that even our allies are stunned.

If Peters' words are, indeed, representative of current thinking within the White House and the Pentagon, then what does that say about us as a society?

It says, loud and clear, "We're doomed."


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