Thursday, June 28, 2012

28-Jun-12: Have we just been handed a credible guide to Iran's true plans?

Scene from trailer for a recent anti-Jewish Iranian
film production [Image Source]
A chilling assessment of Iran's intentions from the website of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. CFR publishes the prestigious journal "Foreign Affairs". 

The article below, which appeared on cfr.org yesterday (Wednesday) is authored by Elliott Abrams, a national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration for which he supervised U.S. policy in the Middle East.


The Voice Of Iran
Elliott Abrams [Source]
Why is it significant that the vice president of Iran has used a United Nations forum to deliver an appalling anti-Semitic speech? This happened yesterday in Geneva, as The New York Times reported. Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi blamed “Zionists” for the world’s drug trade, citing the Talmud and leaving his audience at the anti-drug conference in shock. This event is significant because it reminds us that the assumptions behind the nuclear negotiations with Iran are questionable at best. Those assumptions include mirror-imaging, the belief that Iran’s regime will make the sorts of “rational” calculations the governments of the EU and United States would make in their place. Impose sanctions on Iran, reduce its income from oil sales, harm its economy, and surely the Supreme Leader and his advisers will react as we would, weighing almost mathematically the costs and benefits of the nuclear program. Then comes Mr. Rahimi, teaching us that math may not be the best way to predict Iranian policy decisions. How do we factor in irrational hatred of Jews? How do we weigh a deep desire to destroy the Jewish state? How do we calculate the effect of beliefs that seem to us in the West to be preposterous, ludicrous, impossible? Or a better question: how do Israelis make those judgments? As many historians–most recently, Andrew Roberts in The Storm of War, his superb history of the Second World War–have reminded us, lucid calculations are often absent, statesmanship often pushed aside by ideological obsessions, hatred more powerful than rational calculations. Just because we think it irrational for Iranian officials to make such speeches, or wreck their economy to pursue nuclear weapons, or threaten Israel, does not mean that such things are not happening and will not happen. Sitting around conference tables they may appear unlikely or impossible, but the Rahimi speech may be a better guide to Iranian foreign policy than the words spoken at those sessions.
As Abrams writes, hatred is often more powerful than rational calculationsEgypt's semi-official Al-Ahram newsagency described the senior Iranian leader's speech, made at a global drug enforcement conference in Tehran, as "unusually vitriolic and inflammatory" while helpfully reminding readers that "Iran and Israel have traded hostile rhetoric for years".

Here's a nauseating recent example of Iran and Israel "trading hostile rhetoric", YouTube has a trailer for a thoroughly despicable anti-Jewish Iranian movie called "Saturday's Hunter", posted in November 2011 (h/t Elder of Ziyon). The imagery, the hateful stereotypes, are what Iranian mass markets are getting when they see Jewish life depicted on the screen. MEMRI provides some excellent background in a video clip of their own. 

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