Monday, January 17, 2005

What is to be done on Iran

Only a week after India announced its 25 year, $40 Billion LNG deal with Iran, comes a fascinating Seymore Hersh report in The New Yorker that U.S. is preparing for a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear and military assets -- in a bid to weaken the theocracy in-charge, thereby catalyzing a secular, pro-West revolution in Tehran.

Covert U.S. opertives have been secreting radiocativity sensors in sensitive areas in Iran, have been coordinating with Pakistani intelligence (which is spilling the beans on its past covert role in Iran's nuclear enablement -- in return, A.Q. Khan is being allowed a quiet Pakistani retirement under house arrest), and the Pentagon has been revamping contingency plans for a broader invasion of Iran.

Per a retired U.S. intelligence operative, Mr. Hersh reports, “This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah—we’ve got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.”

We have been strong advocates of Neo-conservatism and its revolutionary strategy for the Arab middle east. Still, we are less sanguine about the war extending into Iran. Its not clear, however -- alas -- if India will have major influence here. Given this, what is to be done?

One thing is clear. Regardless of the present & future legitimacy of Iran's theocracy, we know from India's own experience that nuclear prowess tends to be an electrifying force in nations like ours. There should be little doubt that even secular Iranians (India's natural allies) would like to see their civillization gaining the respect of the world -- nuclear prowess is surely seen as helping in this. Thus, even after their theocratic overlords are toppled, Iran's people will still yearn for global respect -- & eventually nuclear capability (it worked magic for India, afterall). Neighbouring Pakistan's betrayal of this quest will likely never be forgotton -- rather should never be allowed to be forgotton.

While India does not support the nuclearization of Persian dictators, it will not support the West militarily disrespecting Persia's proud civillization either. While India (unlike Pakistan) did not aid Iran in developing nuclear capability, it will not (like Pakistan) stab its people's valid aspirations in the back either.

India will do well to carefully disseminate this message to Iran's proud people. This message will likely resonate across Iran's political spectrum -- including its likely future rulers, the secular democrats. A deep distrust between Iran's (Shia) democrats & Pakistan's (Sunni) dictators will represent a natural "strategic depth" for India -- in turn, a crucial element for victory in our own inevitable, final & existential, confrontation with Pakistan.

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