The Inevitability Mindset

Written by: Michael Kravshik.

For years the debate over the Iranian nuclear threat has raged, and for months the potential of an Israeli strike on these capabilities has enraged.  Many on both sides of the political spectrum have made the decisions faced by the Israeli and American leaders seem obvious or easy. Such people are generally either naïve or more beholden to their political ideologies than to rational thinking. The complexities inherent in these decisions and the serious repercussions for both countries are immense. Simplifying the argument does not do it justice and, more importantly, it does not help the decision-makers who have a massive burden of responsibility to bear. I’m not in the business of pretending I know what the Obama or Netanyahu administrations intend to do, how sure they are about their intended course of action, or even what factors they perceive as being most important; however, I do think that this past week should change the wider debate substantially. Something of significant importance was acknowledged that, while entirely suspected for a long time and by many people, should alter the prevailing debate now that it has been said publicly.

For years Iranian leaders (most notably Ahmadinejad, but others as well) have spouted the familiar unabashed anti-Semitic hate and general threats towards Israel. We’ve heard holocaust denial, prophecies of Israel’s destruction at some non-descript future time and, most recently at the UN, the claim that a worldwide Jewish conspiracy is preventing the world media from freely reporting on ‘realities’ (whatever that means). Of course, this list is most certainly not exhaustive, but you get the idea. None of this is either new or surprising. None of this should influence the decision making any more than it already has over the years.

So what’s changed? Less than a week before Ahmadinejad’s UN speech, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, General Mohammad Ali Jafari said something I believe to be of immense importance. It wasn’t well reported. I only happened across it in the middle of a CBC article filled with threats and pronouncements. The lack of media coverage surprised me. More specifically, I was surprised by the fact that no one seemed to give this statement any more than the cursory attention given to most of the usual garbage we hear from Iranian leaders. Perhaps somebody of Mr. Jafari’s stature has even said it before, I really can’t be sure considering the lack of attention it received this time around. That being said, now that it has come to my attention, it’s something I hope more people can become aware of.

Mohammad Ali Jafari

Without any further adieu, I give you the words of Mohammad Ali Jafari… [War between Iran and Israel], “will eventually happen, but it is not certain where and when.” It isn’t shocking or outrageous. It isn’t crudely anti-Semitic or extraordinarily distasteful either. It’s something that I’ve heard quite often from pundits and experts, as well as from ideologues and the entirely ignorant. So, what makes this uniquely important? This came directly from one of the top military commanders involved in the crisis.

This is different from the usual hate-filled and strategically inconsequential rubbish with which anyone who reads the news is normally inundated. This is an insight into how the Iranians themselves are viewing the situation. Most importantly, how the man who would be in charge of such efforts is viewing the situation. A military man will naturally view it militarily, and it would be hard to imagine that his thoughts aren’t heavily focused on actual strategic goals and concerns. This statement isn’t only about the current debate regarding the potential of an Israeli strike. It’s a telling look into the psyche of Iranian military planning and strategy. Stating that “war will eventually happen” is announcing its inevitability. He didn’t say it was likely, or that it was inevitable unless ‘X, Y, or Z’. Whether it’s this year, or next year, or under this pretext, or due to that situation, he is proclaiming their unalterable intention for war. With that mindset, deterrence isn’t exactly an option. Unfortunately, unlike the tango, it only takes one to start a war. Therefore, if this statement is an accurate portrayal of the mindset of the Iranian war planners, then war will occur. There is no option. Who knows how, or when, but it will. The only thing left to debate is whether this was an accurate portrayal.

I think this is a real game changer in a world filled with those who, very righteously, are trying their best to avoid such a war. If accurate, it means that their focus must be shifted from trying to prevent a war (since it will “eventually happen”) to how to make the inevitable war as ‘least-bad’ as possible.

I note with extreme caution to all readers that I am not suggesting or supporting any particular course of action. This information does not make any of these decisions any less difficult, but it does change the discussion quite a bit. Washington and Jerusalem will need to decide what ‘least-bad’ means to each of them, both separately and together; a set of decisions that I am happy to not have the responsibility of making. The only conclusion I can draw is that, if war is inevitable, it should be undertaken when it is likely to cause the least amount of damage. If waiting means fighting a stronger enemy with more (and potentially nuclear) capabilities, than waiting means heavier casualties (civilian, military, and economic). This may seem to suggest that I condone a strike on Iran. But, for that to be the case, one would have to assume two things: firstly, that I am 100% sure that Mr. Jafari was communicating his true thoughts; secondly, that striking right now is the best way to make this ‘inevitable’ war the ‘least-bad’. In truth, I am certain of neither.

All I’d like to do is stress the significance of this statement and, more importantly, the necessity of an effort to determine how much truth it resembles. I believe that question has become the question of primary consequence for both Israel and the United States. Once that decision has been made, if the decision is to take Mr. Jafari at his word, then it would only be prudent to prepare accordingly. I truly hope that this important question becomes the topic of more debate and more media attention.

Note: This article does not focus on Ahmadinejad’s very obvious apocalyptic mindset, since that is well documented, and there is good reason to believe he will not be making whatever final decisions are to be made.

                                                    

This is my opinion. What’s yours?

Special thanks to Dorothy Charach for her editing advice

14 thoughts on “The Inevitability Mindset

    • I get very angry at Israel and want to lash out at Israelis punish them into suisismbon. At the same time, I am very defensive of Iran and become angry at US foreign policy that seeks to punish Iran. I admire Kinzer, so when he says, If we want to see Israel take its place in the world, we need to deal with them gently, I pay attention, and attempt to revise my thinking and my attitude.I’m not there yet, however. The fiasco of US becoming furious that Turkey-Brazil had disrupted the US rush to sanction, that is, punish, Iran, is the very behavior Kinzer warns against. But the US has never treated Israel with anything but sloppy and foolish indulgence. So I’m not sure how much more understanding Israel needs or is entitled to or will be good for Israel’s future. If Israel were my kid, I’d be looking for a tough-love intervention. After I’d taken away the car keys.

  1. Seems this could be part of the overall strategy. If the “West” was to strike first for whatever reasons suggested or otherwise, it would likely give Iran a lot of support as a victim from the younger generation of misguided liberals in the West and around the world. Seems smart to me in the sense that you can either get the “West” to attack now/first granting Iran more global support, or they won’t attack and Iran will have time to finish developing nuclear weapons.

  2. It is very simple. If Iran is genuinely on the path towards developing a nuke, given the Ayatollahs current set of principles, then action should be taken. Action meaning that Israel, with the support of the United States should take out Iran’s Nuclear Facilities. If that launches the region into full blown war then so be it. Jews should not wait around for a clearly deranged and maniacal tyrant to act on his twisted and apocalyptic beliefs. Never again should that ever happen.

      • Pay,You’ve been emphasizing your own onoiipn, I’ve been doing the same. Where our onoiipns disagree, I’m willing to show the reasoning that leads to mine. You say it is clear that Ahmadinejad’s margin was fabricated. It is clear to me that the opposite is true. The votes were counted by hundreds of thousands of election workers all over the country, if the country really has a pro-Mousavi majority, very likely there would also be a pro-Mousavi majority of the vote counters.Mousavi had over 30,000 election monitors all over the country. Between him and the other opposition candidates, there were more opposition election monitors than there were ballot boxes.Mousavi has issued a formal list of his complaints with how the election was conducted. His election monitors obviously did not give him information to support a claim that votes were not counted by the people who were supposed to count them, otherwise he would have made that claim.The results were published so that every person who counted, and everyone who monitored the counts can see if the numbers used to make Ahmadinejad’s margin fit with what they did. Nobody yet, six months later, has come forward to say those numbers are wrong. Mousavi says he’s willing to die. Why is he not willing to say he got more votes that Ahmadinejad?It is not clear that Ahmadinejad’s margin was fabricated. It is clear that it would nearly be impossible, given what we know now, for Ahmadinejad’s margin to have been fabricated to the degree that Mousavi could be the rightful President of Iran.If you refuse to engage the argument, it is more likely that you have no reasonable response than that you refuse on principled grounds to discuss the matter with someone pretending to be asleep or something.

    • George Carlin had a great little skit based on such poactiill name changes. Its probably funnier to listen to instead of read it, but still, here is it: I don’t like words that hide the truth. I don’t words that conceal reality. I don’t like euphemisms, or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms. Cause Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent the kind of a soft language to protest themselves from it, and it gets worse with every generation. For some reason, it just keeps getting worse. I’ll give you an example of that. There’s a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It’s when a fighting person’s nervous system has been stressed to it’s absolute peak and maximum. Can’t take anymore input. The nervous system has either (click) snapped or is about to snap. In the first world war, that condition was called shell shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables, shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was seventy years ago. Then a whole generation went by and the second world war came along and very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn’t seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock! Battle fatigue. Then we had the war in Korea, 1950. Madison avenue was riding high by that time, and the very same combat condition was called operational exhaustion. Hey, were up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It’s totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car. Then of course, came the war in Viet Nam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years, and thanks to the lies and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it’s no surprise that the very same condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder. Still eight syllables, but we’ve added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder. I’ll bet you if we’d of still been calling it shell shock, some of those Viet Nam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I’ll betcha. I’ll betcha.

  3. Hi Michael
    I certainly agree with you on how they love planting seeds. Mainly because I believe attacking Iran would only give a golden chance to The Iranian government to make more loyal residence, which for sure stabilize them for even more decades. If you know middle eastern you know they rather to fight with invaders than standing against their corrupted government ( media does it job everywhere).

    Don’t forget at the same time presenting Iran as a bigest threat of the region presents a perfect opportunity for USA and UK to sell more military equipments to countries such as Saudi Arabia (almost $30-60 billion contract back in 2010) , or UAE. Who’s gonna buy all these if there was no threat.

    • Michael: Hi Sean. Your certainly right that such an attack would likely galvanize the population towards the regime, and thats part of the reason why the decision to or not to attack is such a tricky one. It is one of the many considerations that will need to be weighed. However, I’m fairly confident the Gulf states see Iran as a threat regardless of how the USA and UK presents the situation. The regional power struggle seems to be playing out in what might even be called a proxy war, at least to a certain extent, in Syria today. This issue is one that increases the risk of allowing Iran to get a nuclear weapon. If they do, certainly the major Sunni players (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt) will want to get their hands on one as well. A nuclear arms race in the Middle East is not something anyone wants to see. Thanks for commenting, I hope you enjoyed the post and will continue to read krax!

    • Off topic, but relevant in a leragr sense, I think for folks interested in the Iran election, I think the recent Venezuela election had some interesting parallels to offer for consideration. Where the opposition in Iran boasted a particular shade of designer green as its symbol, the clever color symbol for the Venezuelan opposition was a purple thumb; like the opposition in Iran, the Venezuelan opposition made a point of declaring victory before official results came out, stating that they had won the overall vote by 52 48 %, which contrasted with the later official result, according to which Chavez’ party won a small majority of the overall vote (the opposition also apparently failed to point out that overall vote is not necessarily as meaningful in an election where no national office is being voted on); as with the Iran election, anyone following the election on Twitter would have assumed that the opposition had won an overwhelming victory; as with Iran, international media immediately scored the election as a triumph for the opposition, even though the opposite would appear to have been true.The major difference, of course, is that the US is heavily involved in supporting the Venezuelan opposition, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, whereas the US has not supported the Iranian opposition in any way whatsoever, until just recently or so virtually the entire punditocracy seems to agree. So we should ignore obvious US interest in the Iran election, simply assuming that this would be a nearly unique case globally where the US had a strong interest in an outcome, but did nothing about it. Also, we should ignore the many obvious parallels between the Green Revolution and other color revolutions where extensive US involvement is known to have taken place. Also we should ignore the fact that the State Department ALONE has apparently spent AT LEAST 400 million attempting to bring about regime change covertly in Iran, with other US departments presumably spending heavily on the same project, simply assuming that none of that bounty could conceivably have been spent on any support to the Green Revolution, much less massive support, despite the well known historical precedent for the US covertly supporting an opposition in Iran to bring the Shah to power Yes, ‘serious people’ should ignore the screaming parallels between the Green Revolution and other US-backed, US-manipulated color revolutions. That Mousavi is an interesting character, isn’t he? Once known, apparently, for having hands covered with the blood of both Iranian dissidents and American citizens, he is now a high-minded champion of civil rights and peace! And, although Mousavi is known, amongst other things, for his apparent CIA contacts during Iran-contra days, it is Ahmadinejad who is to be criticized for his dubious foreign involvements Mousavi runs a fascinatingly jigjagged political course, now attacking the government for not taking a strong enough line against the crowning jewel of Obamian engagement’ the uranium swap now attacking the government for too strong a line against the West! Is it possible that Mousavi is a heavily backed opportunist, rather than a great leader, drawn to the crucible of history by high ideals and strong principles, by the Call of his Suffering People?Who can say? Certainly it would not be ‘serious’, or responsible’, to take into account any obvious parallels between the Great Green Revolution in Iran and any other recent US-backed color revolutions, including the recent adventures of the US backed opposition in Venezuela.

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