Thursday, January 13, 2005

Iran's Nuclear "Divine Destiny"

The Spectator (U.K.) posted an interesting article about Iran's nuclear program and the failed attempts of the EU to reign in the mullahs.

"The fatal mistake that the European negotiators appear to have made is to project their own values on to Iran’s leaders, assuming that revolutionary mullahs share the aspirations and impulses of rational decision-makers in the West (would it ever occur to any Western leader to send waves of children running through minefields, as Iranian children did in the Iran-Iraq war, in order to clear the danger?).

Iran’s political compass is fixed on a symbiosis of ideology and religion, which imbues its decisions with a mystical, transcendental supernaturalism, beyond the experience and understanding of conventional Western political thought and practice. No surprise, then, that the clutch of economic carrots dangled by secular, democratic, liberal Europe cuts little ice in revolutionary Tehran, which has its sights set on divine destiny."

This is something I've been thinking about a lot since the Fallows article earlier this week. The key difference between the War Against Jihad and the Cold War is the nature of our enemy. During the Cold War the Free World faced an enemy that we more or less understood. An enemy who acted rationally. An enemy who did not want to die.

In June 1963, President Kennedy said about our Communist foes, "So, let us not be blind to our differences - - but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."

Can the same be said about the Islamists? About the Iranian leaders? Do they cherish their children's futures? How is using children to clear minefields 'cherishing their futures'? The Hamas mothers who claim to be proud that their children have committed suicide and killed Jews do not 'cherish' their futures in the same way that we do. People who embrace death because it leads to paradise do not understand 'mortality' the same way we do.

This colors all of the challenges facing us. In some profound sense our enemies are alien to us, in their motivations, their goals, and the price they are willing to pay to achieve them.


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