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Unfiled March 11, 2005
Give Persians The Bomb!
Arming Iran may be the world's only hope By Kirill Pankratov Browse author

A little qualifier from the beginning: I don't call for somebody to just give Iran a few nuclear bombs. What I am saying is that Iran in the next few years will develop a nuclear capability one way or another. And that, overall, will be better for the world security.

Iran's nuclear program was a subject of much hypocritical nonsense lately. The Bushies are pumping up all kinds of war hysteria. Europeans pontificate over the incentives and legalistic mumbo-jumbo to make Ayatollahs open up and slow down their nuclear activities. And Russians assure that no, of course Iran has no intention of acquiring nukes, this is just idle talk, it will just return all the reprocessed radioactive material from the atomic power station Russia is building at Bushehr. It's like "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"

There is a joke about two crocodiles deciding to taunt a monkey who is sitting on a riverbank. "Let's ask her if she is married," says one croc to another. "If she replies yes, we'd say 'Gee, what an idiot married such an ugly monkey!' If no, we'll say: 'Of course, who would marry such an ugly monkey!'" But when they swam by and asked her, she had a better answer: "How can anyone get married when all you see around here are fuck-faced crocodiles!"

The question is not whether Iran does or does not want to build a nuke. Who wouldn't, when all you see in the neighborhood are get the idea.

Iran quite rightly feels surrounded by dangerous crocs. It had two neighboring countries invaded by a hostile superpower, with hundreds of thousands of troops near its border. Pakistan and India, the biggest regional powers, are nuclear. Russia -- the former "Satan from the North" has plenty of them. Everybody knows that Israel has nukes, perhaps up to several hundred bombs. If Iran will acquire some atomic bombs, it will not destabilize the regional balance-it will make the situation more symmetrical and stable.

Iran isn't the worst or the most dangerous regime around there. It has plenty of flaws. And yet it is far more open, tolerant and democratic than most of its neighbors. It has some political prisoners, but probably no more than Turkey, which does not tolerate any dissent related to Kurdish question. Iran has not been the aggressor in all its conflicts in recent decades. On the contrary, it has been a victim of aggressions, in particular a terrible war initiated by Saddam, who was tacitly supported by US (and by the Soviet Union which sold to Iraq billions of dollars of weapons).

One frequent charge thrown at Iran is that it supports Hezbollah terrorist activities in Lebanon. It is true to some extent, although Hezbollah is largely a homegrown affair. Besides, who didn't mess in Lebanon recently? US, Israel, Syria messed big time. Iran's involvement is far smaller.

As I mentioned already, Iran with nukes will actually be a stabilizing factor. Let me be clear on this: America today is ruled by thugs, who are more and more prone to utterly idiotic and dangerous misadventures. It is not just a matter of the Bush clan, or the Fox disinformation machine, as many liberals claim. The Bushies don't have any real opposition-you can't be kidding yourself with the pathetic chirping of the Democrats. There are no "checks and balances," no matter what constitutional and other clauses legal bookworms can dig up, and no matter how many allegedly independent TV talking heads and newspapers columnists are there endlessly mumbling various political minutiae.

There isn't much specifically "neocon," "Texan," "Republican" or even "American" about that. There is a simpler, more primal reason. Basically, America is doing this because it can. That's why every schoolyard bully does it. Power is intoxicating by itself, and makes one progressively more delusional. It usually ends badly, but can persist for quite a while with relative impunity. The only thing that can bring bare minimum of sense to a drunken bully is to have a big, sweaty, hairy fist two inches from his face. A really hard kick in the ass will surely work better, but there is a chance that less violent methods will do. It is called deterrence. And-I'll give you a little secret-it works.

The first time the world encountered its full implication was during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, which came pretty close to war. And the possibility of a devastating nuclear war had a real sobering effect on those who actually mattered. There were crazies on both sides who wanted to launch a massive war-some Kennedy cabinet ministers and military brass, a few Soviet generals and Politburo dummies, and Fidel Castro. These were precisely the people who hadn't actually had fingers on the little red button. By contrast, the bombastic, boot-banging Khrushchev was a paragon of sanity in the crisis: he eventually abandoned an indefensible position, but not before extracting reasonable concessions from the other side.

America's problem with Iran is to a large extent psychological. They had been caught with their pants down and kicked in the butt really hard when their puppet Shah regime collapsed so quickly and unexpectedly in 1979. Then a bunch of crazy students overran the US Embassy and took most of the personnel hostages, keeping them for 444 days before release.

It was a pretty painful episode. I can sympathize-Americans were right to feel outraged, even considering how much they messed and fucked up in Iran themselves. Yet it wasn't the worst hostage-taking affair in history, by a long shot. The hostages were treated reasonably well. No one of them was killed or seriously hurt. There is no comparison with the murderers Osama or Basayev, who was waxing philosophically on the British TV channel several months after his gang shot men point-blank, raped schoolgirls and made small children drink urine, and ended in bloody inferno with the killing of hundreds of hostages in Beslan.

In fact the biggest danger to lives of American hostages came on April 24, 1980, when the Carter administration, particularly the idiot Brzezinski, attempted a totally hare-brained operation to rescue them. The operation collapsed thousands miles from Tehran, ending in a smoldering wreckage of several American planes and helicopters in the middle of Iranian desert. And that was for the better-if they managed to get to Tehran, it could have ended in the deaths of many hostages. This misadventure had no chance of success, despite claims about just a few unlucky coincidences. It was as if during the WWII some bumpkin from a distant Cossack village claimed that, had he not fallen drunk from his horse right at the doorsteps, he could come to the front and take on the whole Panzer division swinging his saber.

Americans will have to get over the Embassy hostage-taking affair. Russians did. Russians in fact had it much worse. Exactly 150 years before the Khomeini revolution, in February 1829, a raging mob spurred by mullahs overran the Russian Embassy in Tehran, killing almost everybody inside, including the famous writer Griboyedov, who was the Russian envoy there. It was in the middle of the Cold War between two superpowers-British and Russian empires, although it was called "The Great Game" then. Iran was the primary ground for intrigues, spies, palace coups. These big powers professed freedom, progress, women's rights (the Russian Embassy in particular gave refuge to two Armenian girls who were forcibly made into Shah's harem)-sound familiar? Yet Russians somehow managed to overcome these bitter memories long ago-at least I don't remember anybody bitching about it in my time.

I don't advocate letting everyone have a bomb. There are some real loonies out there-North Korea, for example. I would also trust Pakistan much less with their nukes than Iranians. But Iran passes the basic sanity test-far better than many others. Certainly better than the US itself, whose behavior, particularly under the Bushies, is by far the most dangerous factor in the region.

Yes, a nuclear Iran will make the neighborhood-and the world-more secure. Just consider: Iran never had ties to Al Qaeda, whereas the US bankrolled Osama's start-up during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Iran was always in a near-state of war with the Taliban when the US was looking for ways to accommodate them. And Iran went to war with Saddam Hussein ten years before the Americans got wise.

Iran should have a bomb-to keep in check all these gangsters roaming around its region, and to keep America from behaving totally insanely. So here is my modest proposal to all who pile on Iran: to shut the fuck up and let it join the club-the nuclear one.

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