November 07, 2005


What's behind Iranian leader's anti-Israel rant |

A few weeks ago when the president of Iran made a comment during a speech to one of those constituencies every President has that Israel should be "wiped off the map," people in Europe and America were understandably horrified. Condoleeza Rice, who has been trying to get the U.N. to slap sanctions on Tehran, as well as keep any nuclear material away from the Persian nation, stated that this was a good example of just why Iran should not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. Tony Blair, breaking ranks with his EU buddies as he so often does, even hinted that military action might be necessary to deal with a state that had made him feel "a real sense revulsion." He later backed down from the threat, but has continued to voice his displeasure.

The president of Iran also backpedaled when he began to realize, as Dan Murphy in the above article points out, people actually listen to you when you're president instead of merely the mayor of Tehran. But, he said it. It's out there and everyone has to live with it. Though, it's not like Iranian hostility to Israel is a big shock.

I think it's important to note a bit of history and geography here. Iran, i.e. Persia, has long been the dominant hegemon in the Middle East. Pick up your Bible and you'll see them mentioned quite a bit. And unlike other groups that have come and gone, the Persians have stuck around and have quite liked being a dominant force, though admittedly, their domination was subdued a bit by the Arabs in the seventh century. We Americans quite liked them being a dominant force also until the Iranian Revolution of 1978 when Iran turned decidedly anit-American because, well, we had been funding the despot making their lives miserable.

Since their remarkable victory in 1967, Israel suddenly became a new hegemon in the Middle East. Yes, Israel only has 5 million Jews against a hundred million Arabs yada yada yada (and Iranians, who, please dear reader, note are NOT Arabs but Persian). But Israel has the most powerful military in the region -- including the only nation there with nuclear weapons -- and therefore, has a lot of diplomatic power. And, frankly, that's what nuclear weapons are useful for: diplomatic leverage. Yeah, it's not a particularly healthy form of leverage, but as the nation with the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons and the only country to have actually used them in wartime, it's not like we can really talk.

Now, not only is Iran threatened by someone else taking over what they see as their rightful hegemony, but now they've got the United States, which says they are part of an Axis of Evil, surrounding them in Iraq and Afghanistan. Imagine if the Soviet Union had been in Mexico and Canada during the Cold War. Indeed, I doubt we would have been limited to just trying to make nuclear weapons in such an instance.

Kicking Iran out of the U.N., as Ariel Sharon wants to do, or isolating them with sanctions, as the U.S. wants to do, is not going to make Iran feel less threatened. Removing our military bases on their borders and encouraging Israel to make a just peace with the Palestinians, however, just might.