Western policy-makers grow increasingly-reconciled to co-existence with a nuclear Iran. They assume that, notwithstanding the radical rhetoric, the Iranian leadership is pragmatic, cognizant of its limitations, unwilling to expose its people to devastating Western retaliation and considering nuclear capabilities as a tool of deterrence – and not as an offensive weapon – against the US, NATO and Israel.
However, a nuclear Iran would constitute a clear and present danger to global security and peace, which must not be tolerated. In order to avert such peril, it is incumbent to disengage from illusions and engage with realism.
Unlike Western leaders, the Iranian revolutionary leadership is driven by ideological and religious conviction, bolstered by ancient imperialist ethos:
- Jihad is the permanent state of relations between Moslems and non-Moslems, while peace and ceasefire accords are tenuous.
- The Shihada commits every Shiite to kill and be killed, in order to advance Shiite Moslem strategy.
- The strategic goal of Shiite Islam – which replaced illegitimate Judaism and Christianity – is to convert humanity to Islam.
The religious Shiite zeal is intensified by the Persian-Iranian ethos, shared by secular and religious Iranians, who believe Iran has been a regional and a global power for the last 2,600 years.
Iran’s religious/imperialistic strategy has guided Teheran’s tactical policy toward the US (the “Great Satan” and the key target for Iran’s terror and nuclear), Central & South America (an anti-US terror platform), Iraq (the chief Sunni rival in the Persian Gulf and an arena to weaken the US), Saudi Arabia (an apostate regime), the Gulf States (targeted for revolution and takeover), Afghanistan and Pakistan (arenas to erode the US’ image), international terror organizations and terror cells in the US and Europe (weakening Western societies), Syria, Lebanon, Hizballah and Hamas (threatening Israel and advancing regional hegemony) and Israel (the “Little Satan,” a Western outpost in the Abode of Islam, the source of Judea-Christian values).
Western leaders are top heavy on “pragmatism” and low on ideology and religion. Therefore, they are preoccupied with Iranian global tactical policy, minimizing the study of Iran’s strategic infrastructure of religion, ideology and history, which consider Shia, Jihad, Shihada and Persian imperialism as Teheran’s Pillars of Fire.
Western leaders believe in engagement – and not in confrontation – with Iran. However, Teheran’s revolutionaries regard such an attitude as a symptom of Western fatigue, of a tendency to “blink first” and of a modern version of the defeatist European slogan: “Better Red than Dead.” Moreover, Teheran considers the US a superpower in retirement and retreat, gradually adopting the European state-of-mind and losing its posture of endurance since the 1973 retreat from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the 1979 terrorist takeover of the US embassy in Teheran, the 1983 retreat from Lebanon following the blowing up of the US embassy and Marine headquarters in Beirut until the 2011 expected US withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, Iran demonstrated its willingness to pay a brutal price for its principles and interests, when sacrificing some 500,000 persons on the altar of the 1980-1988 war against Iraq, including approximately 100,000 children who were dispatched to clear minefields.
Teheran is encouraged by Western preoccupation with engagement and sanctions, which constitute a delusion and not a solution. For instance, Russia and China consider the US a rival and do not share the US assessment of Iran. They benefit from a weakened US and therefore they do not cooperate in the implementation of sanctions. Europe employs tough rhetoric, but displays frail action. And, the UN will not support a tough US policy toward Iran. The longer the sanctions and engagement process, the more time is available to Iran to develop and acquire nuclear capabilities.
Teheran benefits from Western adherence to a supposed linkage between the Palestinian issue and a successful campaign against Iran. However, there is no linkage between the Palestinian issue – or the Arab Israeli conflict or Israel’s existence – and the pillars of Iran’s strategy. The more entrenched the “Linkage Theory,” the heavier the pressure on Israel and the weaker the pressure on Iran.
In 1978, President Carter’s policy toward the Shah was perceived as the backstabbing of a US ally, providing a tailwind to the anti-Shah opposition and facilitating the Iranian Revolution. In 2010, Western policy toward Iran is perceived as an acknowledgment of the potency of the revolutionary leadership, thus serving as a headwind to a weakened domestic opposition and minimizing the possibility of a domestically-generated regime-change.
A sustained Western policy toward Iran would confront the Free World with a brutal dilemma: Accepting radical diplomatic, economic, military and religious demands presented by a nuclear Iran, or facing a series of vicious wars, including a rapidly escalated nuclear race among rogue regimes. In order to avoid such a dilemma, it is incumbent to disengage from the illusive options of deterrence and retaliation and engage with the realistic option of military-preemption/prevention. Furthermore, the cost of military inaction would dwarf the worst-case cost of a military preemptive action against Iran.