Monday, June 18, 2012

18-Jun-12: Who would have thought it? The Iranians are behind a terror attack? And The Guardian reports it?

 Ayatollah Khomeini and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The little man in the middle: Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
speaking at the Khomeini mausoleum, near Tehran, Iran,
June 2, 2012 [Image Source]

In February 2012, there were two widely-reported terrorist attacks on Israeli diplomats, one in India, the other in Georgia. In New Delhi, the wife of an Israeli diplomat and her driver were injured when their car was bombed. And a bomb was defused outside Israel's embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia. 

Media reports generally followed the traditional safe pattern of "he said/but he said"; claim and counterclaim from two parties who, let's face it, are morally on about the same rung as each other. That's the sad state of today's conventional reportorial logic.

Far too many analysts, journalists and their editors see things that way despite the clear evidence in front of them of barbarism and Islamicist messianism as constants in the ongoing war of the terrorists. The Washington Post's headline at the time, typical of the mindset: 
Binyamin Netanyahu accuses Iran over bombs targeting Israeli diplomats
As if there were no objective way to draw an inference without pinning it on the political head of Israel.

Britain's Guardian is a master at this kind of headline-by-sneer. It posted the following across the top of its February 13, 2012 website edition:
Tehran's ambassador to India denounces Israeli claim as 'sheer lies' after blast in New Delhi and discovery of device in Tbilisi
But inevitably, as the facts come out, certain conclusions become (almost) unavoidable even if they coincide with "Israeli claims". And The Guardian's editors, at least sometimes, do pay attention. From this Sunday's headlines:
Iran was behind bomb plot against Israeli diplomats, investigators find / Western intelligence fears price of failure for Moscow talks on Tehran's nuclear programme could be high
Uncharacteristically straight talk. But in the case of yesterday's admission, the more interesting part is in a small revelation buried half way down The Guardian's page:
European intelligence officials told the Guardian they now found it difficult to judge Tehran's "risk calculus". "Until recently it was possible to see why they were doing what they have been doing," one intelligence official said. "Now it has become very unpredictable. It's very hard to see the logic behind [the February bombings], other than perhaps demonstrate an ability to cause problems in the event of war or a desire for revenge of some kind."
Imagine that. Years of pounding out the conventional liberal line that Iran's ayatollah-driven government is, at the end of the day, as rational as you and me, and there's now finally a small speck of light at the end of the tunnel. The crazy recklessness of the regime in Teheran might not, after all, be a figment of Netanyahu's imagination. Sometimes those lunatics over there turn out to be truly capable of the craziest things.

In Moscow, representatives of Iran's regime sat down to talks this morning with the US, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany. The BBC says the two days of conferring comes after what it calls "inconclusive sessions in Istanbul and Baghdad over the last two months". The Western side wants Iran to voluntarily stop its nuclear program in the light of the International Atomic Energy Agency's delicately diplomatic findings last November that Iran had "carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device". And what does the Iranian side want? For its "non-negotiable" right to enrich uranium to be recognised.

As high as the stakes in this standoff are, sometimes when the other side is acting "unpredictably", you need to factor that into your strategic thinking and not go on pretending they are as sane as you and me.

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