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Ponderously, the United States and its allies are preparing, at long last, to confront Iran in a "dialogue" about its nuclear development program. Those who hope for deliverance in this confrontation will be disabused. It is apparent that Iran retains the upper hand, as it has had the advantage, somehow, since the beginning of the Iran nuclear development saga.

With impeccable timing, just before the first "dialogue" meeting, Iran announced the existence of another gas centrifuge facility near Qom. Left jab! They announced it because the United States was about to expose it. The US has known about this plant for years. As fast as the US could demand that Iran allow inspection of the plant, Iran complied by offering to open the plant to inspection, which of course, will show no clear evidence of intent to produce weapons. That has been the pattern since 2003, when the Natanz enrichment facilities and the Arak plutonium reactor were discovered. Iran always shows at every turn, just when it appears that it has finally been caught, that it is pure as the driven snow, and complies with all or most of the requests of the IAEA. "Yes, the inspectors will come and inspect," they say. After the facility is suitably sanitized, of course the inspectors will find nothing, which is what they are supposed to find. The IAEA can then only produce equivocal reports. What is forgotten of course, is that in each case, clandestine projects were first uncovered by others, and then Iran, after allowing a suitable interval to remove incriminating evidence, complied by allowing inspection. If the installations are all so innocent, why are they always developed in secret?

Again with impeccable timing, tests of several models of Iranian missiles, including a 2,000 KM solid fuel rocket capable of carrying a 1,000 KG (nuclear?) warhead to Tel Aviv and beyond, added to the humiliation of the West. A hard right hook. And when the "great powers" meet with Iran this Thursday there will be yet another humiliation in store. Having waited about 9 months for this dialogue, the Obama administration will discover that the Iranians are willing to discuss almost any subject under the Sun - the weather, philosophy, theology for example, but not their nuclear development program, which they claim is a sacrosanct right. The US is about to take one on the jaw.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the Muhammad Ali of international statecraft. He floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. He presents an attractive target and tempts a response, but by the time the blow lands, he is not there any more. The blow hits thin air. Or else he seizes opportunities to drag his opponents into perilous contests they cannot win - in Iraq, in Lebanon and in Gaza, and maybe in Afghanistan too, as some have suggested. He never misses an opening. Bobbing and weaving, maneuvering his opponents into position, the adroit Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, like Muhammad Ali before him, makes his opponents look like big, clumsy and dull- witted oafs. After each victory, Ahmadinejad comes out crowing, "I am the greatest."

The US, it seems, thinks it has a plan B according to the Washington Post, a strategy to isolate Iran if (or rather, when) the dialogue doesn't work out, and if (or rather, when) it turns out that other countries such as Russia and China are unwilling to impose economic sanctions on Iran. The US is planning to dissuade insurance companies from insuring freight bound for Iran. Wow - Mahmoud the champ must be trembling in his boots! Chinese and Russian insurance underwriters must be preparing happily to assume the burden of insuring Iranian freight at a slight mark up. It is surely naive to expect that a country that would risk invasion by the United States would be stymied by a little problem like insurance. Believe it or not, Mr. Obama, Iranian soldiers will get to the front even if their vehicles do not have air-bags. It may shock American housewives to learn that Iranian truck bomb suicide bombers don't worry about having their licenses or insurance revoked either.

The problems of US strategy (or lack thereof) may lie in this assessment by the Washington Post:

The administration has limited options in unilaterally targeting Iran, largely because it wants to avoid measures so severe that they would undermine consensus among countries pressing the Iranian government. A military strike is also increasingly unpalatable because, officials said, it probably would only briefly delay any attempt by Iran to produce a nuclear weapon..

The two statements illustrate several of the many misplaced American assumptions about Iran.

The biggest error that the Americans (and Israel) are making, is assuming that Iran's main goal is to produce a nuclear weapon. That is not true. The nuclear weapon is only a means to an end.

Iran's main goal is to humiliate the United States and displace it as the number one power in the Middle East. Of course, militarily and economically, Iran could never win a contest with the United States. But diplomatically and politically it can, and so far, it is doing excellently well at achieving its objective. Insofar as the latest events have also sown alarm in the Arab world, failure of the US to stop Iran from testing more missiles and building more nuclear research gadgets will certainly increase the prestige of Iran and encourage the (former) allies of the US to seek protection from the more successful and savvy Iranian leadership.

A second error is the assumption that there is a consensus about Iran among the permanent Security Council members and Germany. Had there been a consensus, there would have been action. Since there has been no effective action, it is obvious that there is no consensus. There cannot be any consensus, because of the countries in question, three have no real interest in stopping Iran. Germany is Iran's biggest trading partner and would not want to lose all that money over what is basically an American project. Russia and China are certainly not going to lose any sleep over the prospect of the US losing its sphere of influence in the Persian Gulf.

A third error is revealed in the US determination that a strike on Iran would only delay the nuclear program a short time. It is both meaningless and besides the point. It is meaningless because nobody has any idea how long it will take Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. A 2006 estimate by "experts" insisted that Iran was five years away from a nuclear weapon. Three years have gone by, with Iran working away furiously, and now different "experts" insist that Iran is six years away from a nuclear weapon. And yet others (see here and here) would have us believe that Iran can make a bomb any time it pleases. We have no gauge of Iranian progress in making a weapon, and certainly no way to assess the efficacy of a military strike in stopping Iran from making a nuclear weapon. The issue is besides the point because the nuclear development program is, as noted, only a side show. The goal is to humiliate the United States and get it out of the Middle East.

A military strike has to be assessed not only for its efficacy in meeting the supposed technical objective, but for its political impact. If the military strike is used by Iran to consolidate regional opinion against the USA and Israel, and to rally support at home for the faltering Iranian regime, then it would certainly be counter-productive. If Iran uses the strike an excuse to shower missiles on US forces in Iraq or rain missiles on Israel through Hezbollah, it would be a disaster.

But if there is some action, even a symbolic and minor one, that humiliates the Iranian regime, even if it only sets back the nuclear development program by 20 minutes, or not at all, it will have served Ahmadinejad with a good stiff dose of his own medicine. If the opponents of the Iranian regime can learn to dish out such blows one after the other, the way Ahmadinejad is doing to the US, they can beat him in his own arena. Iran boasts that it is invulnerable to all enemies and that Israel is a paper tiger. What would happen to the Iranian regime if that boast was shown to be empty and dangerous? Ahmadinejad's boastful self-confidence probably covers a quite different reality. Half the battle is won when the world believes Iranian boasts. Muhammad Ali said:

I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.

It's time to abandon all the clumsy, obvious tactics that Iran can plan for, because the Iranian target will never be there when the blow lands - whether it is economic sanctions or a military action. It is time to find new and unexpected ways and means to humiliate Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime, and it is a good idea, if such tactics are found, not to announce them beforehand in the Washington Post.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2009. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000716.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 1 Comment

Ahmadinejad WAS a jew, he is NOT a Jew. Thereís an enormous difference. Do you say Muhammad Ali or Cassius Clay ? The latter converted to Islam and thatís his religion. Nobody ever said he wasnít a Muslim. This is also applicable to anyone who ever converted to whatever religion.

I, however, do not approve of Ahmadinejadís methods which are clearly against the Principles of Islamic faith.

Batterien, Wednesday, October 7th

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