Saturday, June 20, 2009

Military Intelligence

As I write, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of mainly young Iranians are deciding whether or not to risk going out into the streets. There is little someone like myself can add regarding the poignancy of their decision. Yet one thing seems obvious: a generation of Iranians has been changed by these rallies--changed in roughly the opposite way they would have been had Israeli military intelligence got its way, and won American and IDF agreement to an aerial strike on Iranian nuclear facilities earlier this year.

Even in the face of mass protest, not only did Mossad chief Meir Dagan refuse to admit the obvious--that an attack would have caused widespread carnage, put Iran on a war footing, and preempted its twittering liberalism--but he's had the audacity to predict to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee what nobody could possibly know at this point, that the protests will peter out; that, anyway, a Mousavi government would be worse than Ahmadinejad's regime, for it would give Iran's nuclear program a prettier face. ("To hell with those students; the PowerPoint is done.")

Still, it is not military planners like Dagan who seem reprehensible to me. It is the politicians and writers who channel them. We pay people like Dagan to sum the weapons of potential enemies and come up with ways to foil them. (The only reason we'll be able to live with a nuclear Iran, should this become necessary, is because military planners will have figured out how to position Israel's own nuclear deterrent.) And Dagan's main job is to think like a "made man," turning worst case contingencies into scenarios, and scenarios into "predictions." Mossad people say they also look at motive, not just capability. But who doesn't know how easily military people assume that capability translates into motive, much the way economists assume big money translates into investment. Motive? We are not talking about James Joyce here.

On the other hand, nothing seems more irresponsible to me than politicians and political analysts who lack the poise to stand up to military intelligence when important policy decisions are taking shape; politicians so eager to prove that they are not still trusting children that they remain forever sophomoric, defining the world as a test of wills, fearing (as Orwell did in "Shooting an Elephant") looking like a fool; writers so eager to prove that they are not just brainy wimps that they hang out with, and flaunt being respected by, officers.

So before the moment passes, we should give thanks that, owing (among other things) to McCain's defeat, this was one attack that never took place--and now never will, since it is obvious, even to the mullahs, I suspect, how the regime can simply be waited out, much the way Communist regimes were waited out; how they have lost the young.

And before the next moment of crisis, we should not fail to note some of the most irresponsible journalism of the last couple of years: Benny Morris' call for a limited nuclear strike last July, and, more recently, Jeffery Goldberg's implied endorsement of some kind of attack. (Both were given enormous space in, of all places, the New York Times op-ed section, so the editors should probably be remembered, too.) And who can forget Haaretz's Arie Shavit, who is silent about Iran this week, but is already taking credit instead for Netanyhu's policy of a demilitarized Palestine?

This accounting may seem small of me, but the celebrity culture being what it is, the periodic violence of extremists being what it is--and the fears summoned by ordinary neurosis being what they are--these writers will no doubt hang on nicely, cultivating their reputation for toughness (though Goldberg, to his credit, is repulsed by Dagan's statements, and seems to have come around to the idea that warning against the reckless use of force is not the same as weakness). Anyway, there is often credit for talking tough, while warning against violence is thankless. Just not at this moment, surely, and not in this case.


Sam Abady said...

In condemning those who advocate military force to destroy Iran's nascent nuclear bombs, Avishai calls the game in the middle of the match. He apparently believes in the thoroughly ahistorical notion that all popular uprisings against dictatorships succeed. Has he learned nothing from Hungary in 1956; Czechoslovakia in 1968; Burma in 1988; Tiennamen Square in 1989?

Iran is a hideous regime, and none know this more than young Iranians.
It is controlled by the “rahbar,” the Supreme Leader. Until 1989, this was Ruhollah Khomeini, and after his death, Ali Hoseyni Kahmenei. The “rahbar” controls the military, foreign relations, law enforcement and the justice system. He is a modern-day caliph presiding over an Islamist dictatorship with the veneer of democracy. The president, currently Admadinejad, deals with softer matters, economics and education.

The “rahbar” is ruler for life, equivalent to Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, of Abdullah II in Jordan, and Ahmadinejad is equivalent to the flunky prime ministers in Egypt and Jordan. However, the “rahbar” differs from Mubarak or Abdullah in that he maintains an appearance of being aloof from day-to-day political matters in keeping with his exalted religious status. That is why Ahmadinejad is the public face of the regime he does not control.

As a result, whether Ahmadinejad or Mousavi is elected, neither will have much impact on that which is critical to Israel and the West: Iran's nuclear weapons. Khamenei will forge ahead as he has in prior decades.

Young people in the streets are not protesting Mousavi's loss at the polls -- on the merits, he inspires nothing -- but instead, are protesting against the veil and chador, censorship, and arbitrary arrests by the religious police.

Avishai implies the lost legitimacy of Islamist rule is something new. This is nonsense. Khomeini made the Revolutionary Guard more powerful than the army for this reason. That is why the Guard answers only to the "rahbar." In September 2007, Mohammad Ali Jafari, the new Revolutionary Guard chief, reconfigured it into thirty-one units -- one for each province and two for Tehran -- because he anticipated the uprising underway, and understood it could be a greater threat to the Islamist regime than external enemies like Israel. Guardsmen are stationed away from their home cities so they will fire on crowds secure in the knowledge family and friends won't be among the throng.

Today, Iranian students clashed with Revolutionary Guards in Tehran at Enghelab Avenue, Fatemi Square, Square Sadeghieh and Abbas Abad. Yesterday, more than 4000 young people in Shiraz met at the junction of Danechjou (Elm) and Chamran Namazi, and Afif Abad Motehari, to face off with guardsmen. At Chahcheragh, demonstrators chanted "Death to the dictator."
In Mashad Sunday morning, demonstrators were pummeled at Rahnama'i crossing between Taqi-Abad and Ahmad-Abad streets. Avishai is quick to find Israel's liberation in this struggle.

But Khamenei is no fool. He remembers how Mohammed Pahlavi fell: by capitulating with the revolutionists and allowing Bakhtiyar to become Prime Minister. Iranians revolutionists understood this royal weakness and confronted the Shah's dreaded Savak. Khamenei knows that compromising with student protesters today could have the same result.

The world greeted Ahmadinejad’s promise to destroy Israel with insouciance. Dagan took it seriously. Avishair condemns him for this. Not one demonstration against the "rahbar" has demanded Iran destroy its nuclear weapons program.

The game is not over, as Avishai would have us believe. Mousavi's supporters soon may be crushed. Revolutionary Guard pepper spray, batons and water cannons are everywhere, and so far, doing their job efficiently.

During the Revolution, young Iranians embraced Khomeini, and now have buyer's remorse. Now they embrace Mousavi, who like Ahmadinejad, is adamant about Iran building nuclear weapons. Those willing to pin Israel's hopes on the current demonstrators may have buyer's remorse, too.

Bernard Avishai said...

Mr. Abady: I made no brief for the regime. What I said, obviously, is that an attack on it would have preempted the development of the countervailing forces now taking shape. And if we learned anything from Eastern Europe and China, it is, precisely, patience.

Sam Abady said...

You speak with great certainty. It may be an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would have further isolated the mullahs and emboldened the pro-democracy forces.

Is patience the lesson from China and Eastern Europe? Is Tibet now free? Is Taiwan no longer threatened? Did patience bring about devolution in Yugoslavia, or was it NATO bombs?

To paraphrase Barry Goldwater: extremism in defense of Israel's security is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of Zionism's legitimacy is no virtue."

Duncan Cookson said...

I must say I agree with Mr Avishai. Mr Abady says that It may be an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would have further isolated the mullahs and emboldened the pro-democracy forces . You mean the way 9/11 emboldened peaceniks in America to overthrow the US government? Generally speaking the more you attack any community the more insular they become. Do you think a military strike on Hungary pre-1968 would have been a good idea? And I seem to remember the world reacting to Ahmadinejad's remarks with public outrage. I could go on but since Mr Abady is a self-proclaimed supporter of extremism it probably isn't worth it.

It's ridiculous to assume that countries at the receiving end of brutal colonialism will, in the matter of a few years, or as a result of a few bombs, reach the kind of liberal democracy that it took those enriched colonial powers many decades to establish. Even now the unelected head of state of the UK is technically the head of the national religion.

It is also nonsense to assume that a nuclear armed Iran will attack Israel. Why destroy the land of the people they support and bring untold destruction upon themselves? As Mr Avishai points out, capabilities do not mean motive otherwise people would be walking around punching each other in the face. If the Iranians do finally get the bomb then they will be as paranoid as Israelis about making sure it isn't deployed.

So I agree. Wait. What Israeli's should really upset about is the confused and irrational policy of the US towards Iran over the last 30 years. I think a less antagonistic White House has already encouraged Iranians to turn their focus inwards.

Sam Abady said...

Mr. Cookson insists: "It is also nonsense to assume that a nuclear armed Iran will attack Israel." Clearly, Cookson does not heed Iran's leaders whose statements utterly refute his baseless assertion.

In the words of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who ruled Iran from 1979 to 1989: "We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world."

Ahmadinejad invokes Khomeni’s words above relentlessly. For those who diminish Ahmadinejad’s importance, look at the words of Iran’s “pragmatic conservative,” Ayatollah Rafsanjani: "If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has … use of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world. In other words, Israel would be destroyed in a nuclear exchange, but Iran would survive."

As Bernard Lewis points out: "MAD, mutual assured destruction, [was effective] right through the cold war. Both sides had nuclear weapons. Neither side used them, because both sides knew the other would retaliate in kind. This will not work with a religious fanatic. For him, mutual assured destruction is not a deterrent, it is an inducement. We know already that [Iran’s leaders] do not give a damn about killing their own people in great numbers. We have seen it again and again. In the final scenario, and this applies all the more strongly if they kill large numbers of their own people, they are doing them a favor. They are giving them a quick free pass to heaven and all its delights."

Iran is not nationalist, it is Islamist. The Iranian regime exists to serve the ummah, not the Iranian nation. That is why it is an apocalyptic regime – Ahmadinejad thinks he is the mahdi -- and that is what makes it so dangerous. Iran will unleash a nuclear holocaust on Israel as soon as it acquires the capability to do so. Iran’s fajar and shahab missiles can deliver bombs to all of Israel, and Iran is prepared to sacrifice millions from Israel’s counterstrike.

Iran denies the first Holocaust while promising to bring about the next one. For the arrogant like Cookson, all too willing to expose Israel to existential risk -- something no other nation on earth must confront -- if proven wrong, he will say "oops" and move on. Why fret about another six million roasted Jews?

For some of us, however, the notion is obscene.

Duncan Cookson said...

Well, you're a supporter of extremism Mr Abady, so there's a limit to how much I have to care about your opinion but I'll respond. Iran has been on the receiving end of constant threats and pressure from Israel and the US. Those statements can easily be read as rhetorical threats to those countries not to attack Iran.

Clearly the same kind of propaganda that persuaded Germans that jews were subhuman has persuaded you that muslims are wild-eyed fanatics incapable of rational thought. But then if you believe an ancient propaganda document gives you the right to act without conscience to inhabit a piece of land that's not surprising.

Olmert was doing his best to make me not care about the people of Israel but thankfully so far Netanyahu seems to be a strong enough leader not to feel the need to engage in orgies of violence to gain respect. Not that there's much left to bomb anymore. Many people, including me, would view the death of 6 million Israelis as an unimaginable tragedy but I'm willing to bet a fair number of those secretly wish they'd all just move to Mars given all the instability this conflict causes. That's life.

Put a convincing package on the table that includes security, normalisation of relations and so on and I think the Iranians would accept it in return for suspending their enrichment program. It's at least worth a try before setting the whole region on fire.

Sam Abady said...

You reveal yourself by this diatribe. Your resort to ad hominem about "extremism" and not-so-subtle revulsion about Judaism's "ancient propaganda document" speaks for itself. Serious intellectuals employ evidence and logic.

Your belief that Iran would normalize relations with Israel in exchange for security is risible.

Why do you bother reading a serious thinker like Bernard Avishai?

Duncan Cookson said...

extremism in defense of Israel's security is no vice - Your words

for the arrogant like Cookson...if proven wrong, he will say "oops" and move on. Why fret about another six million roasted Jews? - ad hominem?

Why do you bother reading a serious thinker like Bernard Avishai? - Because he makes more sense than you do.

Actually I was referring to the US putting a package together not Israel but I accept I didn't make that clear. I think normalisation of relations between the US and Iran will have to include assurances on the security of Israel and at least a conditional recognition of it's existence. After all it can't be a question of principle for an Islamic state to object to a Jewish one. In fact Ahmadinejad has made statements in support of a two state solution here. You can be cynical of course but the fact he made that statement at all shows the idea has some traction inside Iran. It's some distance from the fanatical desire to annihilate 6 million Israeli's that you claim is the primary motivation of the Iranian government. It's also inconceivable that Iran would object to an agreement sanctioned by the Palestinians. I think there's room for a deal. The 2007 Iran National Intelligence Estimate implies there is also time.

The demonstrations in Iran mean the ruling elites have to face new realities. Tiananmen Square didn't lead to the overthrow of the communist government but it did result in some modest social reforms over the years. The central point of the article that military action would not have helped holds.

Is American public opinion of itself ready to know that US policy towards Iran, in the context of it's policy towards Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, China, Kazakhstan etc, isn't founded entirely on high moral principles and must change? That's an important question.

Sam Abady said...

"extremism in defense of Israel's security is no vice - Your words"

Not my words, but instead, a paraphrase of Goldwater's 1964 aphorism taken from the Founding Fathers that "extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue." It was not meant as a literal endorsement of political extremism. Obviously, the point was too subtle.

"After all it can't be a question of principle for an Islamic state to object to a Jewish one."

What does that mean? Iran's "objection" to Israel's existence, i.e., politicide, is justified by Iranian leaders on religious grounds. They repeatedly invoke extremist interpretations of Koran and Hadith to advocate Israel's destruction about which you are so cavalier.

Do you believe Hitler did not mean what he wrote in Mein Kampf? If, with historical hindsight, you admit he did, then on what basis do you think it prudent to simply ignore the Mehr News Agency which promimently features proto-Nazis Arthur Butz, Michael A. Hoffman II, Paul Fromm, Mark Weber, and Robert Faurisson, among others?

Do you think David Duke is not a racist, or the Ku Klux Klan is not dedicated to racist ideology?

Why should we not take statements by Iranian leaders at face value, and instead, posit their beliefs to be as something other than what they say, when you would not dream of doing so for Nazi leaders or Klan leaders? What logic impels this distinction?

Duncan Cookson said...

If you paraphrase something they become your words :) And if you don't mean something then don't say it. Certainly the fact that Goldwater held a similar view doesn't mean I have to agree with it.

I meant that the idea of a religious state can't be logically objected to if you allow for religious freedom, which moderate Islam does, but I take your point. Those kinds of statements have been made in the past. I was thinking that this would be an argument of someone attempting to make a deal with Iran but didn't make that clear.

The point is Iran feels under the same existential threat that Israel does, from both the US and Israel. Anyone remember Saddam Hussein? So it's pretty difficult to separate what's a threat and what's a threat in response to a threat. US/Israeli characterisation of Iran and it's people has often sunk to pretty grotesque levels.

How much of the anti-semitic stuff you mention is actually believed and how much is used as a propaganda attempt to undermine Israel's legitimacy is hard to gauge. Certainly in a televised debate Mousavi openly criticised Ahmadinejad's holocaust denial (see here)and he can't be described as a political figure from the fringe. There is an interesting article about it here. I think holocaust denial is a policy rather than a belief. Policies are much easier to change than beliefs.

If we are to take people at face value then why not Ahmadinejad's support of a two-state solution? Isn't that a contradiction to your claim that the Iranian leadership is implacably opposed to Israel's existence?

And what of Israel's denial of the Palestine's right to exist :) What about the zionist destruction of Palestine all those years ago? What legitimises that over the destruction of Israel? That's they're point of view. The holocaust has been used to justify the destruction of that state and to defend the atrocities carried out in Israel's name. It's perhaps not surprising that at some point it's legitimacy would come under attack. I'm pretty sure an American president who wasn't riding the fag end of the 'War on Terror' would have been able to persuade Arab leaders to condemn holocaust denial. There have been Arab condemnations anyway, just a few I googled quickly here and here.

It's very difficult, I would say impossible, to separate any moral high ground in any of this. It's just about establishing security and peace. Given that Israel is under no major threat now, I think you hold off from military action until the last possible moment. If six million people were under a credible imminent threat of annihilation then they must protect themselves of course. That isn't the case now and won't be even a remote possibility for four or five years. That's time enough to do a deal. It will be intensely difficult and a terrifying process but it's better than the consequences of military action in my opinion.

Sam Abady said...

You drifted too far afield. The issue raised by Avishai was whether "military intelligence" was unintelligent, and whether a military response to Iran's threatened annihilation of Israel was unwise.

Your implied claim that the Iranian regime represents "moderate Islam" is risible. It is Islamist, not moderate.

Iran is not threatened by either the U.S. or Israel, nor does it mistakenly believe otherwise. Since when did either the U.S. -- the "Great Satan" -- or Israel -- the "Little Satan" -- ever threatened destroy Iran?

Your propaganda/belief paradigm is absurd. Nazi propaganda became German belief.

Your statement that "Israel is under no major threat now" is rejected by security experts across Israel's ideological spectrum, as well as the U.D. Dept. of Defense. Clearly, you've not read anything about Iran's weapons development or military capabilities.

In his 2002 State of the Union address, George W. Bush made an unassailable point: "We will be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons."

Time is not on Israel's side. The danger from Iran gathers closer and closer. It is the world's most dangerous regime and it has threatened Israel with the world's most destructive weapons which it is building at a fevered pace.

You say it "won't be even a remote possibility for four or five years." Israel's military experts say it will be a reality in six months to a year. You'll forgive me if I heed them, not you.

Your statements about Israel and Palestinians are propaganda, not history, but as that matter is irrelevant to Avishai's article, I don't address it here.

Duncan Cookson said...

I think I stayed more or less within the bounds of the article and responses to the comments that you made. Your contention is that the Iranian regime is completely irrational and bent on the wholesale slaughter of Israelis and therefore military intervention is the only solution. My responses are justified in trying to counter that claim.

You seem incapable of believing that moderate voices exist inside Iran, including the regime itself, despite evidence to the contrary, including the demonstrations that have been all over the news recently. That's not a credible point of view.

Iran has been under intense pressure since the Islamic Revolution in terms of sanctions, condemnation of it's regime's 'right to exist' and military action (see the Seymour Hersh article here and a Telegraph artice here). It has been the policy of the West and Israel to seek the overthrow of the Islamic regime, let's not forget it was included in Bush's 'Axis of Evil'. To claim otherwise is not credible. Since Ahmadinejad's oft misquoted statement was actually "The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time" it's hard for me to see Iran's stance towards Israel as more extreme than the US and Israeli stance in return. Seems like tit for tat to me.

If, as you claim, propaganda becomes belief then change the propaganda, change the belief :)

If you're going to start quoting a man who came out with phrases like "Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream" and "You're working hard to put food on your family" to back up your point of view then God help you.

We can pick and choose who we believe but I think the report by the 2007 Iran National Intelligence Estimate, produced under considerable pressure from George Bush II, has good credibility. Since Iran knows that an overt attack on Israel would lead to an overwhelming response from Israel, the US and it's allies I honestly don't think it's believable that the Iranian regime would launch an attack. It seems to be your view that Iran cares only about Israel and Zionism above all domestic and international concerns. I think it is more concerned about it's own survival and prosperity.

Your say Iran is the world's most dangerous regime. Presumably you're measuring that in some kind of abstract way and not in terms of actual countries invaded or people killed.

I see there's been welcome movement on the release of Gilad Shalit. I think you could reasonably argue that this probably wouldn't have happened either if Iran had been attacked.

Sam Abady said...

From our dialogue, I infer that you have never been to the Middle East; that you do not speak any Middle Eastern language; and that you do not regularly read Arab or Israel news media.

I respond to your points in order:

(i) "Your contention is that the Iranian regime is completely irrational and bent on the wholesale slaughter of Israelis and therefore military intervention is the only solution.... It seems to be your view that Iran cares only about Israel and Zionism above all domestic and international concerns. I think it is more concerned about it's own survival and prosperity."

Not irrational, but apocalytic. Khomenei explicitly disparaged nationalism and envisioned Iran as leading the ummah. I gave you the quotation; you treat it as meaningless. Your views are based on wish fulfillment; mine are based on evidence.

(ii) Your whitewash of Ahmadinejad's statement is incorrect, and ignores Khamenei's unambiguous statements I provided. Again, you choose to ignore the evidence.

(iii) I'm highly critical of many of GWB's mistakes in the Middle East. That said, his penchant for malapropisms do not vitiate the point made in his State of the Union address.

(iv) "the 2007 Iran National Intelligence Estimate ... has good credibility."

That statement is further proof you dismiss evidence because you are ideological, not analyticale. You are not alone. Avishai, a brilliant man whom I respect enormously, is also an ideologue. The NIE conclusions about Iran's nuclear weapons program have been thoroughly discredited, most significantly by Israel's security establishment. Israel's former President is Iranian. Israel has a large, Farsi-speaking population. Its academics know Iran, and its security services have penetrated Iran to a much greater degree than the U.S. or any other country. If you were Israel's leader, would you dismiss your own experts in favor of the NIE written by men who don't speak, read or write Farsi?

(v) "Your say Iran is the world's most dangerous regime. Presumably you're measuring that in some kind of abstract way and not in terms of actual countries invaded or people killed."

Did you study the Iran-Iraq war? Do you know how many people were killed? Or why the Basij were formed? Or what Khomeini had them do in that war? Have you seen the Fountain of Blood in Tehran? Did you miss Iran's act of war in capturing British sailors just last year? Have you read a single history book about Iran?

(vi) "I see there's been welcome movement on the release of Gilad Shalit."

Again, you prefer rose-colored glasses; I rely on historical evidence. Just today, HAMAS said it had no knowledge of his whereabouts or whether he was alive. That means in all likelihood he was murdered long ago. This is a tired Arab game. Look at Regev and Goldwasser. The Arabs held them out as live carrots, and returned rotted corposes.

The Middle East is not the West. Time to wake up and smell the "botz" (mud), i.e., the Turkish coffee.

Duncan Cookson said...

You're quite right, I don't speak any Middle Eastern language. My father works for an Arab/American company in Saudi Arabia and the rest I get from english speaking sources. I accept there are things I don't know. Anyway let's respond again...

i) You could argue, convicingly I think, that the United States just had an apocalyptic administration that believed in the eventual triumph of christianity and the second coming of Jesus at some unspecified time in the future, possibly soon. And now they don't. Things change. During the Bush administration there were significant numbers of people, including some within the political establishment, who didn't hold that view. Now those people hold power. Do you think that more successful terrorist atrocities would have made McCain's election a) more likely or b) less likely. Under a military threat people choose hawks.

Since Khomeini died twenty years ago I admit that I'm reluctant to view his pronouncements as being absolutely reflective of the current agenda and totality of Iranian political opinion in 2009.

ii) Many people have confirmed the translation that I repeated. It's even on Wikipedia :) There's an article about it here if you want to refute it. You can also look at selections from a recent Khamenei speech here. If you can't be bothered here's a quote

We have no problem with the world. We are not a threat whatsoever to the world, and the world knows it...We will never start a war. We have no intention of going to war with any state

That's probably more up to date than your one.

iii) Whatever. He obviously didn't write the words you quoted but at least he managed to read them out without messing them up. Given that I'm guessing he was talking about Iraq's non-existent WMDs I'm not sure it qualifies as an 'unassailable point'.

iv) I concede ground here but I've heard so many lies and deceptions come out of the Israeli establishment that I'm afraid I just don't believe anything they say. There is an article in Haaretz here about a major report that describes Iran's missile capability as primarily to defend, deter and influence. I don't know whether Uzi Rubin speaks Farsi, you'll have to ask him.

v) Actually I've read one history book that has some Iran in it (highly recommended by the way, seriously) and I'm in the middle of another one that focuses entirely on that country (a bit of a diatribe but excellent historical sources).

To throw the Iran-Iraq war in the face of my argument is odd considering some of the points you've made previously. The US sponsored invasion of Iran using chemical weapons? That ended 21 years ago? That was a fight for survival. One of my best friends in junior school was a girl whose family had fled that war. It's kind of obscene to characterise the people that died in that war as victims of Iran.

I'm British so I didn't miss the capture of our troops. It wasn't treated as an act of war by the British media but as a national disgrace. The final report actually exonerated the Iranians, you can read The Times article here.

iv) I hope you're wrong.

I prefer Moroccan mint tea. A good recipe here

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