Saturday, October 08, 2005

An Adventure That Can Backfire

Amir Taheri, Arab News:
Having secured most key positions in the past few months, the new generation of Iran's Islamic revolutionaries is now invited to prepare for playing "chicken" with the United States.

"The Satanic powers want to play chicken with us," says Gen. Muhammad Hijazi, the man in charge of the Islamic army's office of war preparation. "We must show that we are eagles."

The idea that the Islamic Republic faces a game of "chicken" against the West was publicized last month by Ali Larijani, the new "security czar" in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration. But the man who first came up with the analysis is Hassan Abbasi who has emerged as Ahmadinejad's chief strategic guru.

Abbasi heads the Center for Security Doctrines Research of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (RGC). His friends call him "The Kissinger of Islam", after Henry Kissinger who served as US secretary of state in the 1970s.

"To Iran's new ruling elite, Abbasi is the big strategic brain," says a European diplomat in Tehran. "More and more officials quote him in meetings with foreign diplomats."

According to Tehran sources, Abbasi is the architect of the so-called "war preparation plan" currently under way in Iran.

Last month Abbasi presented an outline of his analysis in a lecture at the Teachers Training Faculty in Karaj, west of Tehran.

The lecture merits attention because it offers an insight into the way the new leadership in Tehran approaches issues of international politics.

According to Abbasi, the global balance of power is in a state of flux and every nation should fight for a place in a future equilibrium. The Western powers, especially the United States, still wield immense military and economic power that "looks formidable on paper." But they are unable to use that power because their populations have become "risk-averse."

"The Western man today has no stomach for a fight," Abbasi says. "This phenomenon is not new: All empires produce this type of man, the self-centered, materialist, and risk-averse man."

Abbasi believes that the US intervention in Iraq, which involved "slightly higher risks" than the invasion of Afghanistan, was the very last of its kind. And even then, the US went into Iraq because of President George W Bush's "readiness to do what no other American leader would dare contemplate."

According to Abbasi, the US knows that the only power capable of and willing to challenge it across the globe is the Islamic Republic. The reason is that the Islamic Republic not only enjoys "strong backing from its people", but also has the support of millions who are prepared to kill and die for it across the globe.

Abbasi claims that the US and its allies have played three games against Iran.

The first was a "carrots and sticks" exercise designed to tempt a section of the Tehran leadership away from radical politics while frightening another section into submission. The next game was "good cop, bad cop" and had the more sinister objective of confusing and dividing the Islamic leadership. Finally, and starting just over a year ago, the "satanic powers" played a new game which Abbasi has dubbed "trigger-at-the-ready." In this game they put the metaphoric gun at the Islamic Republic's temple with their finger on the trigger.

Abbasi believes that the trigger was pulled, firing only a blank, when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed an anodyne resolution on the Islamic Republic's pursuit of nuclear power last month.

"Now that the satanic powers have failed to achieve their goal with all those games they are preparing for a new game," Abbasi says. " This new game is known as the Chicken Strategy in which the two sides move toward each other with speed until one side quits."

It is not clear whether Abbasi or other mullas have seen Nicholas Ray's "Rebel Without A Cause". But it was in that film, starring James Dean, that "playing chicken" was introduced to broader audiences. According to Webster dictionary, the phrase refers to "any of various contests in which the participants risk personal safety in order to see which one will give up first." The quitter is designated as "chicken livered."

Abbasi and his disciples in the new Islamic elite believe that this is the best time to engage the US in a "game of chicken."

"The Western regimes lack popular legitimacy," Abbasi told his audience. "The Western economy is based on shaky foundations that depend on oil. Divisions within the Western camp, the West's economic fragility, and the distrust of the people (in Western countries) toward their governments render their side vulnerable."

Abbasi believes that when President Bush says that no option is off the table, implying that force could be used against the Islamic Republic, he is only playing chicken.

"The Americans are not ready to send a million men (to defeat the Islamic Republic)," Abbasi said. "Even economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic will fail thanks to opposition from the Western public opinion and the refusal of most countries to implement (them)."

Abbasi claims that in a game plan presented to Ahmadinejad, he has concluded that the idea of a major US military attack against Iran is "a bluff."

"Our game plan shows that any attempt at imposing an embargo on Iran would push the price of oil to $110 per barrel," Abbasi said. "And if we were to be subjected to military attack the price could top the $400 mark."

A brief military clash with the US at this time could do wonders for the Islamic Republic. The regime would be able to crush growing internal opposition in the name of national solidarity. It would also revive the regime's revolutionary credentials. The raid on the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 gave the new Islamic regime an aura of radicalism that it lacked because a revolution led by the mullas was hard to sell as a progressive, anti-imperialist movement. Abbasi also recalls that Iraq's invasion of Iran in 1980 was "a blessing from God" because it gave the revolutionary regime another chance to prove its resilience."

In true Nietzschean form he believes that since a limited war with the US will not kill the Islamic Republic; it is bound to make it stronger. READ MORE

But it is not only the US that Abbasi wants to take on and humiliate. He has described Britain as "the mother of all evils". In his lecture he claimed that the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and the Gulf states were all "children of the same mother: the British Empire." As for France and Germany, they are "countries in terminal decline", according to Abbasi.

"Once we have defeated the Anglo-Saxons the rest will run for cover," he told his audience.

Abbasi's strategy may be in tune with the current macho mood in Tehran. But the new Tehran leadership should think twice before it embarks on a potentially deadly, and totally unnecessary, adventure on the basis of childish assumptions about Iran's power and the West's weakness.
This is the same Hassan Abbassi who said:
We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization... we must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles. There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them.
With people like him serving as the architect of their so-called "war preparation plan," we must take these threats very seriously. This is a must read.