It’s fun but foolish to stereotype one’s enemies. It leaves you open to missing a critical perspective, or worse it can lead you into bad mistakes. While it is comforting to believe that the men running Iran have blundered into a minefield of bad options, in actual fact they have a strong hand in some ways, and we would be well advised to consider their intentions on different levels.
Mahmoud Ahmedinijad has often been colored as a puppet of the mullahs, and a zealous fanatic bent on bring about the end of the world in hopes of producing the “Hidden Imam”. While there is some substance to this charge, it is not completely true, and fails to credit Mr. Ahmedinijad’s intelligence. The reason this mistake is important, is because Adolf Hitler was similarly underestimated during the 1930s. This does not mean that Iran will be able to start a World War the way the Nazis did, but long before Ahmedinijad, or even before the mullahs came to power, Iran has been hungry for power.
The Soviets looked at their maps, and they noticed that Iran was a logical juncture for controlling the whole Mid-East. During World War 2, both the allies and the axis powers wanted to control Iran, because having it would deny control of the Middle East to the other side. Ever wonder why one of the mid-war summits was held in Teheran?
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Shah and his generals took eager note of Western withdrawal from Southwest, then Southeast Asia. They accordingly ramped up demands not only from the West, but from their neighbors. The oil revenues were enticing enough, but centuries-old disputes were also revived. The bloody Wahhabist thirst for Jihad and sectarian feuds was also born in the cowardice of diplomats trained at Eton but not Sandhurst, and the type who thought Foggy Bottom a proper training ground, but not Quantico.
This plan is long in its planning, and truly Iranian in its origin. Had the Shah held on to power in 1978, one of his sons would be behind the plan now. That is the bad news, but also the good. What is popular in Iran is not often a winner everywhere else, no matter how the conjured street protests appear. Iran is hoping to challenge American resolve, the one great weakness in our power. To do that, the Jihadists (led by Iran) have worked to strip away our allies. England is our greatest and oldest ally (France does not count, having abandoned their friendship long ago), and so separating the UK from the US is seen as a crucial blow to the Eagle. Not least because the whole world would see it.
Iran is long acquainted with long-term strategy. The Persian Empire ruled the region until Alexander shattered it, and that classic game of strategy, Chess, is generally accepted to have been created in Persia; ‘Checkmate’ is the English translation of the Persian phrase ”Shah Mat”, signaling not only the end of the game but regime change in general. Even during the Ottoman Empire, the various potentates in Iran fancied themselves kingmakers and men of significant influence. It surprises no one to understand that Iran uses Oil as a weapon (although those foolish mannequins who protest a fictional Western ‘War for Oil’ never seem to notice this fact), but the greater strategy in which supply and price manipulation are used is not often considered. During the years when OPEC was coming into its power, Iran directly made, then broke, dozens of commitments and agreements, with an eye to deliberately destabilizing the oil market. Some observant individuals have noted that the present crisis has already benefited Iran by raising the price of oil simply by creating instability; it must be understood that this condition was not spontaneous, but planned.
The humiliation of hostages by Iran is another traditional tactic, a favorite in no small measure because there never seems to be an effective resistance to it. The media is only too happy to air video which has been crafted and produced to the precise intentions of propagandists, without a moment’s consideration about whether a company based in the United States should so act against her interests and safety. For here, it is salient to understand that Iran knows enough about media to play it to its advantage, an effective and common use of unconventional and asymmetrical warfare.
I should be careful to avoid drifting off into discussions of tactics, where the strategy is so important for our focus. It is enough for here to understand that Iran has carefully considered that it must avoid direct confrontation against our main military force, and so it does as it has for the past three decades, seeking incremental gains through asymmetrical attacks against targets of opportunity. Through such actions, Iran hopes to gradually gain the upper hand and approach a ‘tipping point’ beyond which it would be ruinous for the United States to initiate overt hostilities, and futile to ask our erstwhile allies to join the effort. The cultivation of timidity in Western diplomats and the continued threat of economic impact have borne fruit for Iran, and may be expected to continue in that manner.
When Iran reaches that tipping point, its modernized and expanded military will then be able to pursue its regional goals, which I expect will manifest initially by consolidation of controlling the Wahabbist effort. Therefore, seizure of Mecca and Medina under the pretext of protecting those cities from the West will be the most visible signs, although the replacement of OPEC by a Teheran-based entity is also likely. Promises to respect the remaining territory in Saudi Arabia, accompanied by veiled threats of military responses to any action from the West, and economic punishment for any nation(s) which refuse to sign on to the conquest, will be sufficient to fuel the next stage. The intention is not outright invasion, but control through economic and religious influence, of the Middle East. At some point a symbolic military strike against Israel may also be expected, though that will wait for a clearly deficient Western leader in the mold of Carter, along with a pretext and indecision by Israel. The chief plan for now in those lines is highlighted by the Muslim special interest effort in Congress to drastically reduce support for Israel, especially military aid.
Street protests, already carefully manufactured by political wings of terrorist groups, will become even more common in Europe and the East and West coasts of the United States. Savvy Wahhabists are learning to play up alleged ‘Civil Rights’ abuses against Islamists, with an eye to blurring the distinction between honest Muslims who assimilate into American communities and those who actively disrupt the government and legitimate American interests and security concerns. Financial warfare may also be expected in the future, with web transactions a weak-link target of online attacks, and web fraud an easy and effective means to disrupt the U.S. economy, which in turn would disrupt the European and Asian economies. Conversely, the Nikkei and Shanghai bourses have shown an alarming susceptibility to manipulation, especially when the aggressor wants to create volatility, and a crash in Asia would be certain to affect the rest of the world as well. This avenue of attack must be anticipated and defenses prepared.
The kidnapping and mistreatment of the fifteen British sailors is an outrage, but it is the butter-willed response from London which bears the worse omen for the future.