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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Can A Nuclear Terror State Like Iran Be Reliably Deterred from Aggression and Stepped-up Support of Terrorism? No. 3 in a Series

1. "Not all actors in international politics calculate utility the same way in making decisions. Differences in values, culture, attitudes toward risk-taking, and so on vary greatly. There is no substitute for knowledge of the adversary's mind-set and behavioral style, and this is often difficult to obtain correctly in assessing intentions or prediction responses." -- Gordon A. Craig and Alexander L. George, Force and Statecraft (3rd ed., Oxford), p 188.

2. "Our revolution's main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam, the Mahdi," Ahmadinejad said in the speech to Friday Prayers leaders from across the country. Therefore, Iran should become a powerful, developed and model Islamic society. Today, we should define our economic, cultural and political policies based on the policy of Imam Mahdi's return. We should avoid copying the West's policies and systems," he added, newspapers and local news agencies reported."

3. "Most serious criticisms of deterrence theory came from those troubled by doubts about the assumption of policymakers' rationality on which it heavily depends . . . The leading figure in this group was Robert Jervis [a political scientist at Columbia), who found it odd that so many analysts tended to rely on deductive logic while ignoring the emotions and perceptions of decision makers. Participants in international rivalries and conflicts, he warned, seldom have an adequate understanding of each others' perspectives and goals. The receiver-state [targeted by the deterring state], therefore, often misses or misinterprets signals that appear perfectly clear to the deterrer.

"Jervis raised such questions as these: Are the psychological attitudes and decisions processes similar for challengers and defenders of the status quo? Is the defender capable of understanding the challenger's fears that the defender may constitute a security menace? Do both parties view the credibility of threats symmetrically? Can leaders know the intentions of the other side and predict how it will respond? Are both sides equally concerned about their reputation for living up to their commitments? . . . In short, he saw decision makers as burdened with "unmotivated biases" --- beliefs, images, preconceptions, and other cognitive predispositions.

"Yet he did not entirely discount the assumption of deterrence rationality. "The fact that people are not completely rational does not automatically vitiate this approach." -- James E. Dougherty and Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Jr. Contending Theories of International Relations (Addison Wesley, 5th ed).


INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS

This, the 3rd article in a series on Iran and nuclear weapons continues our analysis whether a nuclear-armed terror state --- whose political system is an Islamo-fascist state and champion terrorist-supporter, and whose current President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, embraces spooky, extravagantly superstitious credos and dogmas --- can be effectively deterred from reckless aggressive behavior in foreign and military policies.

Among other things, as we'll see, Ahmadinejad's cocky, constantly reiterated blowhard certitudes include his fanatical belief in the imminent return of the Messianic Mahdi, Shiite Islam's Hidden-Imam Spook whose near-to-hand reappearance will, he claims with high-pulsating zeal, usher in an apocalyptic showdown between infidels and Muslims and end, with divinely ordained inevitability, in the triumph of purified Islam world-wide . . . this, mind you, despite all the chaos, destruction, and slaughter of unconverted infidels that the blessed, end-of-history, Mahdi-led showdown will entail.

Ahmadinejad himself has not minced any words here. Blowhard egomaniacs seldom do. Not only does he regard himself as the personal servant of the peek-a-boo Mahdi-Savior, but --- as one of the above three quotes indicates --- he believes with the fervor of a flipped-out fanatic that the whole purpose of his gaining the Iranian presidency has been to hasten the Hidden Imam's imminent skyhooting from out of a dank deep well near Qum . . . and also, accordingly, to hasten all the bountiful Allah-sanctioned benefits for true-believing Muslims that will follow from the grisly butchery of billions of infidels and wayward Muslims.



Ahmadinejad, It's True, Has to Share Power: How Much Though?

Whether the entrenched mullahs who have dominated the clerical-fascist regime in Iran since 1979 --- at any rate until Ahmadinejad's populist victory last summer --- share his cocksure chiliastic certitudes was the subject of the 2nd article in this series. As it noted, there are three possibilities about this and the distribution of political power in Iran since the election of July 2005.

  The first possibility is that the tiny group of powerful elite mullahs --- who have beaten back all efforts at reform and openness in the totalitarian system --- don't share those dangerous dogmas and have a stake in avoiding a cataclysmic showdown with America, Israel, and the rest of the infidel world, but can't simultaneously, do much to rein in the charismatic megalomaniac with his predictions of a thrilling, grim-reaper fate for Islam's numerous enemies.

As things now stand, you see, the swaggering tub-thumper is too popular to be challenged . . . a soaring, up-to-the-minute hero in the eyes of Iran's uneducated masses badly hurt by Iran's economic shambles, almost half the country living in poverty right now, and for decades at that. More important, he's also popular in key circles of the military, the national militia, the Republican Guards, the secret police, and the religious police . . . or so this initial scenario has it. Then, too, there's apparently significant support for the hot-air zealot among all the low-status, grudge-laden imams and other clerics out in the sticks. What attracts these holy men isn't, note quickly, just Ahmadinejad's weirdo religious hocus-pocus. It's something less spiritual. They've been searching for the main chance for decades now, only for it to never materialize. Sorehead losers at the bottom of the hierarchically structured corruption and power-mania that have marked Iran's political life since the revolution of 1979, they clamor, one-and-all, to join in the orgy of lavish money-making and influence-peddling that have enriched the big-shot mullahs and the Supreme Ayatollah, but passed them by again and again. Is it any wonder that these down-and-out clerics hope --- with almost as much zeal and wild-eyed intensity as they muster in the weekly sermons calling for the death of Israel and the Jews --- that Ahmadinejad wiil be their springboard to soar upward in status and wealth?

The conclusion that follows in this scenario should be self-evident.

Specifically, as long as Ahmadinejad can count on these diverse groups to applaud his radical bombast, his bellicose fist-shaking at Israel, and his repetitive defiance of the US, the major EU powers, Russia, and China, the mullahs-formerly-in-charge can't risk challenging him directly, and so he's free to continue his eschatological lunacies and his rash risk-taking confrontations via Hezbollah, Hamas, and Syria with Israel. If, in turn, any showdown between the big-shot mullahs and the madcap populist president occurs in the future, it will materialize only after a major setback in his reckless foreign policies . . . say, a stinging defeat of Hezbollah by Israel in Lebanon and of Hamas in Gaza, followed by Syria's dictatorship distancing itself from its powerful ally in Tehran. A direct war with Israel would be even more disastrous for Ahmadinejad, especially if, in the run-up, Israeli military power had already destroyed Hezbollah's rocket-threat, crushed Hamas' equivalents, and either sidelined Syria or destroyed its rockets and missiles: in which case, Iran's chest-thumping rashness would invariably lead to a very costly destruction of its infrastructure, factories, military bases, port facilities, missile launchers, and scientific labs, with its nuclear ambitions set back a decade or more.

Keep in mind that to undermine Iran's nuclear R&D this way, it's not necessary to attack a hundred or more sites that have been purposefully dispersed by the Iranian clerical-fascist regime.

It's enough to smash a few key sites, then --- with international help --- impose a strong sanction-program that embargoes the replacement of the destroyed technically advanced components . . . something Iranian scientists and engineers themselves are incapable of replacing on their own. Up to now, the technologies for both the nuclear programs and missiles have come from China, Pakistan, Russia, and possibly North Korea. In that case, with sanctions effectively imposed, Iran's nuclear ambitions might not be realized for several decades . . . long before which, most likely, the country's clerical-fascist system will have been overthrown and the non-Persian minorities, roughly 50% of the population, will have broken away from Persian rule.

  A second possibility is that the cock-of-the-walk mullahs and the Supreme Ayatollah Khamenei --- now afflicted with deadly cancer --- do share these weirdo theocratic and millenarian dogmas, at any rate up to a point, and yet they are trying to find ways to curb Ahmadinejad's new independent power base.

Seen from this angle, there's a conflict between them and him, but unlike the first scenario just sketched in, the tensions and resentments are personal, not ideological. The entrenched head-honchos and their adjutants just don't want to share power or the orgy of corruption and loot it entails.

  The third possibility is that the mullahs are assumed once more to share Ahmadinejad's theocratic mumbo-jumbo with its apocalyptic demonology and Showdown-Forebodings, but fear that his truculent swagger and defiance of outside powers could land Iran in serious economic trouble or even a war that it won't win. Here the differences are tactical, not strategic --- that and Ahmadinejad's reckless swashbuckling style of diplomacy.

Viewed in this light, the corrupt, diehard power-holding mullahs are convinced that sooner or later the swell-headed upstart will soften his diplomacy, tone down the demagogy, and swing around to their way of thinking. It's the sock-puppet scenario.

After all, the mullahs and two Supreme Ayatollahs have turned all the other presidents of Iran since 1979 into their personal vassals, with one exception --- the reform minded Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, who was elected twice starting in 1997, only to find all his efforts at change undermined or sabotaged. In the end, for all his popularity, Khatami had to admit outright failure of all reform efforts. If the top-dog mullahs and their cronies in the key patron-client networks that infest Iranian society --- all engaged, with single-minded devotion, to an orgy of money-grubbing, power-aggrandizement, and mutual back-scratching in an oil-rich country where nearly half the population lives in poverty --- could tame Khatami, why not then Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; and especially if they and he disagree only on tactics and personal style, not end-goals?

What Are These Shared End-Goals? . . .

. . . that the cock-of-the-walk mullahs hope to achieve sooner or later, always assuming Ahmadinejad's more reckless and impetuous actions can be moderated and not plunge Iran into disaster: severe sanctions, a disastrous war with Israel, an even more disastrous war with the US, or the disintegration of the country's unity as the 50% of the population that is non-Persian breaks away.

Back to the end goals. They're easy to set out: make Iran a regional giant, with influence on everything that happens from Afghanistan through the Persian Gulf and the Middle East . . . taking in the former Soviet Republics just to its north. To that end, arm it with nuclear weapons. In these ways --- thanks to Persian nationalism (no, not Iranian, a good half of Iran's population Arabs, Azeris, Baluchis, Kurds, and others, all restless, all eager for independence) --- restore the regime's lack of popular support. And ultimately --- or maybe simultaneously --- put Iran at the end of global Islam in its growing conflicts with Hindu India, Russia, Europe, the USA, and probably China at some point.

A Few Sidebar Clarifications, To Be Expanded In a Later Buggy Article in This Series:

Seems preposterous, these goals --- don't they; a small, half-backward country, half of whose population live in poverty, at odds with very powerful states near and far?

(i.) Sure, but then the geniuses in charge of Iran even before the Great Servant-of-the-Mahdi arrived in power last summer are the same ones who fought a totally disastrous war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq less than two decades ago . . . in which wave after wave of poorly trained, poorly armed teen-agers, roped together, were slaughtered in futile attacks over a period of nearly 10 years. Clerical-fascist zealots and totally incompetent generals one and all, these pin-head masterminds believe, apparently, that a nuclear-armed Iran with a few missiles can forge a global alliance as the head of Islam between Shiite terrorist groups and Sunni al Qaeda and its numerous imitators and spin-offs, cow the small Sunni Persian Gulf States, dominate Shiite governed Iraq, forge an alliance with Chavez's Venezuela, monopolize most of the global oil market (with Indonesia into the alliance), browbeat the West Europeans, create a missile-nuclear exchange with North Korea, and neutralize Russia and China even while encouraging jihadi terrorism among their Muslim minorities because it's in their broader interests to see US and Western power thrust out of the Middle East and let demographic changes lead to ever greater alienated Muslim minorities intimidate and force the West European governments into fearful neutrality.

In the process, of course, the clerical and military wizards hope that Hezbollah and Hamas, with Syrian help, will bog down Israel and ward off any Israeli attack on their budding nuclear programs, not to mention the rest of their military bases, their communication and transportation infrastructure, their factories, and their port facilities and two-bit navy. Oh sure! Fat chance!

These genius-flops who fought Saddam's forces with stone-age strategies live in a world of fantasy and religious dogma. They can deny the Holocaust, they seem to think, with the fervor of neo-Nazis, and they can spew Nazi-like racism about Jews endlessly, and they can gabble openly about extinguishing Israel from the map, and meanwhile the Israelis --- cowed into submission --- will stand by twidling their thumbs and let the clerical-fascist mullahs and the buffoonish tin-pot Hitler who's the president push ahead with their development of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction . . . with Hezbollah and Hamas suicide-terrorists eager to use them against the Evil-Ones.

(ii.) Back here on the planet earth, things are different.

In reality, next to the US, Israel has the most professional and diverse military in the world. For the first time since 1973, Israelis are united; they recognize that they now face enemies again dedicated to exterminating them. Then, too, thanks to its long-standing work in communications, command, control, and information technologies, reinforced since the late 1980s by the arrival of tens of thousands scientists and engineers who had been active in Soviet R&D, Israel's armed forces are impressively advanced in target-acquisition and real-time attacks on any such targets. They are also experts in combined warfare --- the close coordination of air, land, and sea-based forces, made all the more effective and lethal by use of these advanced information and communications technologies. Overall, only Britain's rivals it as a professional force, and even then the British lag way behind the Israelis in anti-missile development and precision-guided weaponry.

For that matter, if the Israelis ever have to mobilize their reserves, their military forces are far more numerous than Britain's, and in the background loom hundreds of nuclear-armed warheads that can be delivered from the ground, air, and seas with pinpoint accuracy.

(iii.) Enter the current war with Hezbollah (July 2006).

Most likely, it's just the initial stage of a longer, wider war to destroy not just Hezbollah's base of power and terror but also to strong-arm Syria and bludgeon while assaulting the terrorist base of Hamas in Gaza and destroying its rockets and major weaponry. To stop with a defeat of Hezbollah without destroying the ability of the Syrian dictatorship, allied with Iran, to re-supply the terrorist movement in the future would be to run counter to sound military logic. Worse, emboldened by an intransigent, terror-state in Iran, a strong and surviving Hezbollah and Hamas would likely acquire chemical and biological weapons thanks to Iranian generosity, and probably --- if Iran ever develops nuclear weapons --- crude suitcase-size radioactive bombs, with all these WMD used in suicide terrorist attacks. And for once, to destroy these weapons' transfers and prepare to deal with Syria and Iran in the future, the population of Israel is politically united for the first time in decades. What's more, for the first time ever, Israelis are aware that the Sunni dictators around the Middle East --- who fear an Iran-dominated Shiite alliance --- will be standing by on the sidelines supplying intelligence to the government in Jerusalem and applauding the destruction of that alliance-in-the-making.

(iv.) As for the US, the clerical fascists in Tehran are making the same mistake that fascists and Nazis in Europe as well as militarists in Japan made in the 1930s: they regard us, and the Israelis, as decadent, weak-willed people who want a comfortable life and have no stomach for prolonged war and the destruction and casualties that they entail . . . not to mention the political divisions within their countries.

Nothing could be further from the truth. And note, it's not just modern militarists and fascists who self-destruct this way. As Victor Hanson, the gifted military historian notes, these fallacies go back to the ancient world and extend forward into the Middle Ages and the early Modern period. In reality, once democratic peoples are aroused --- convinced, in particular, that they face enemies out to destroy and annihilate them -- they are not only extremely powerful compared to their foes, but will, if need be, fight them with a single-minded dedication and ruthlessness that have taken the foes totally by surprise . . . again and again.

Since 1914, the US, Britain, and their democratic allies have destroyed German militarists, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, militarist Japan, and Soviet Communism and its offshoots world-wide except in North Korea, not to mention Saddamite Iran and Taliban Afghanistan. On all the evidence, the surviving Islamo-fascists --- whether secular or fanatically religious and in control of either states or terrorist movements --- will eventually suffer the same fate.


Remember, Speculation about Iran's Politics, Diplomacy, and Nuclear Aims Is Inescapable

As we indicated in the two previous articles, there is invariably lots of information gaps here, and speculation is the inevitable outcome --- even if the quality of the speculation will vary from one specialist to another.

And prof bug is not one of the few specialists world-wide --- mainly in US or Israeli intelligence services or formerly connected with them --- who are well-versed in 1) Iranian life and politics, 2) military and nuclear matters, and 3) social science techniques of acquiring and analyzing information.

One Last Introductory Point: The Nature of the Threats That a Nuclear-Armed Iran Poses

Despite all the inescapable speculation, remember a key analytical point here that was stressed in the earlier two buggy articles: to gain lots of leverage in Middle Eastern diplomatic and military affairs, the political leaders of a nuclear-armed Iran don't have to use nuclear missiles in a direct, suicidal attack on Israel or American forces in the Middle East . . . all, without exception, extravagantly self-destructive actions, bound to bring about markedly destructive retaliation by countries that have a far greater range of nuclear and non-nuclear weapons at their disposal.
They can rely on proxy terrorist movements like Hezbollah or Hamas --- or maybe a Shiite frenzied group in Iraq --- to carry out ever bolder missions against Israel, western interests, and friendly Arab governments . . . including the use of a crude radioactive suitcase bomb. To act concretely in these ways, it's enough for Ahmadinejad to dominate the more entrenched mullah-dominated institutions in the Iranian political system and to be willing to run what he and his advisers regards--- as Hitler did in starting World War II in Europe in 1939, much against the advice of the German military until its professionals were purged and replaced by him --- as controlled risks whose success will be guaranteed by his personal destiny or Allah's will.

Another benefit from risk-taking behavior would also likely ensue.

Any such aggressive actions carried out by terrorist surrogates or a chum-state ally like Syria can count on evoking such a jubilant wild-eyed reaction from the illiterate or half-literate Arab street and its counterparts elsewhere in Islam that Iran's stature is bound to leap ahead as the leading Islamist state world-wide . . . the avenger of Islamic wrong and the avant-garde guarantor of its imminent restoration at the forefront of world powers. Such a prospect is likely to be a seductive allurement for Ahmadinejad. Like all frenzied, megalomanical totalitarian leaders of the last century --- whether Communist, Nazi, Fascist, or Islamo-Fascist --- Ahmadinejad, who claims to have a direct telepathic line to the Messianic Mahdi-Savior, desperately needs to have his narcissistic obsessions continually flattered and catered to by mobs of devotees.

Note Though . . .

. . . the utterly fickle nature of the half-wit ignoramuses who constitute the Arab street and its equally brainless fist-pumping counterparts elsewhere in the Islamic world . . . illiteracy in the 21 Arab countries alone, remember, the highest in the world; yes, more so than even in far poorer Tropical Africa. These volatile massed-morons keep setting up Plaster-of-Paris Idols year after year, only to scurry off as soon as the idols start crumbling to pieces, looking elsewhere for the next blasting, hot-blooded Savior. What will happen, then, when the Islamist terrorists start killing large numbers of Sunni Muslims; or alternatively, when Israel starts bombing Lebanon, Syria, or Iran itself in retaliation?

It seems inevitable, and the topsy-turvy outcome is easy enough to predict. We have lots of good evidence already at hand.

In particular, as al Qaeda or its proxies can attest, kabooming Muslims isn't going to sustain popularity among the formerly adulating masses . . . a fate, as we'll see later in part two today, that has already overtaken the once idolized bin Laden, adored by a large percentage of Muslims world-wide as late as the spring of 2005, only for his group or its imitators to slaughter too many people in Iraq, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.

How Today's Analysis Unfolds

I. In part one, we probe Ahmadinejad's weirdo and apocalyptic, if fairly orthodox Shiite beliefs, to which he is frenziedly devoted. At best they differ from mainstream Shiism only in the fervor of his faith that the return of the Messianic Mahdi Hidden-Spook is imminent . . . along with the showdown Armageddon between infidels and apostate Muslims on one side and true-believers on the other.

II. In part two, we then start probing the sources of Ahmadinejad's high-pulsating popularity among the volatile, credulous, and ignorant mobs of the Arab street and its counterparts elsewhere in Islam. You'll see there that blaming others for Islam's lengthy, uninterrupted decline in wealth, power, knowledge, technology, and prestige is an unshakable dogma in vast portions of Islam . . . the blame focused on its alleged enemies world-wide, always understood in lunatic conspiratorial manner. The lengthy historical decline --- which is set out in this part two --- has further underpinned this blame-shifting and search for scapegoat enemies by a shared mind-set that crackles with raw hot-wire emotions: especially shame, humiliation, and raw rippling resentments that crave vengeance.

III. In part three, the remaining responses of Islam's illiterate or semi-literate masses world-wide --- shared by lots of angry, alienated intellectuals (or at least university students or graduates) who are the leaders of almost all Islamist jihadi terrorist groups --- are then examined in depth: the search for an Islamic Strongman-Savior

1) to arise up somewhere and slay the evil enemies;

2) restore, as if by magic, Islamic wealth, power, prestige, and awe;

3) simultaneously, banish religious doubts and restore unchallenged certitude in the truths and ultimate triumph everywhere of Islam . . . which have always been inseparable from Islam's imperial power on a global scale; and

4) banish, at the same blow, the fears that Islamic truths might not be;


Needless to add, Ahmadinejad is only the latest of these Pin-up Hero-Idols, all the more frantically embraced because each and everyone of the previous strongman, mass-murdering dictators since 1945 --- Colonel Nasser of Egypt, Assad-Sr. of Syria, Yasser Arafat, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Saddam Hussein --- has proved to be a cataclysmic flop in their Hot-shot Stardom roles. And all the more, too, come to think of it, because the great No. 1 Star after 9/11's massacres, bin Laden, has been found in recent opinion polls to have plunged way way down the list in popularity . . . not because of his failures alone, but because al Qaeda and its imitators and spin-offs world-wide haven't been terrorizing the infidels so much as fellow Arabs and other Muslims.

 

Part One:
AHMADINEJAD'S CRUX CREDOS AND CERTITUDES EXAMINED IN DEPTH


(i.) One thing's pretty certain for starters: Ahmadinejad's preposterous mumbo-jumbo certitudes aren't bluff and posturing or so much window-dressing for self-centered, power-laden motives of a standard Middle East or Islamic tin-pot dictator's sort.

He clearly believes them. They are part of his basic psychology and world-view. The only major question --- discussed at length in the previous buggy article --- is whether he has the political power in Iran right now to act on them, and the degree of his risk-taking propensities in regard to what he thinks are his military and foreign policy options to that end . . . all matters on which, recall, speculation is inescapable, what with the information gaps that infest them.



Consider the evidence here. It's overwhelming.

To begin with, he has resorted, --- repeatedly and lavishly --- to theocratic, death-embracing rhetoric with a sort of obsessive monomania . . . which includes raving threats to Israel and Jews world-wide (Islam's evil enemies no less the way they were than for Hitler and the Nazis) as well as to the infidels and infidel-countries that support them. He believes fervently, with iterated emphasis, in the imminent return of the Hidden Imam or Mahdi, a messianic Judgment Day figure in both Shiite and Sunni versions of Islam ---with some differences over whether the Mahdi did appear before 1000 C.E. or not. In an apocalyptic Showdown-Battle between good and evil, the Islamic Messiah --- so this religious claptrap goes --- will slay the perverse infidels and oblige the others to submit to Islam, while, simultaneously, just like that, he will punish apostate Muslims, lead sinful Muslims back to true-believing zeal and righteous behavior, and --- the topper --- banish all misery and suffering here on earth for the faithful until, at death, they are sky-hooted one-by-one on the wings of angels up to Paradise itself.


(ii.) Here, in shorthand, is a list of his key apocalyptic and messianic beliefs . . . taken, with some omissions and change in punctuation, but otherwise literal quotes, from a brief but perceptive article that appeared in the American Thinker on May 25th, 2006:

" * Ahmadinejad literally believes in the imminent emergence of the Mahdi – the Shiites' promised one who is expected to appear to set aright a decadent and wretched world.

* He views himself as the vassal of Mahdi, working for him and being accountable to him, and his task is to prepare the world so to hasten the Mahdi's coming. If this preparation requires much destruction and bloodshed, so be it.

* As a former mayor of Tehran, he developed elaborate detailed plans preparing the city for the arrival of the Mahdi, and allocated generous sums for extensive road improvement to a mosque where it is believed the promised Mahdi is hiding in a well since the age of nine some 1100 years ago.

* He reportedly visits the well [ed: at Jamkaaraan near the city of Qum] where he frequently and drops his written supplications into the well for the hidden Mahdi to act upon them.

* He reportedly has said in private that it was him who asked the Mahdi to inflict the massive stroke on Ariel Sharon.

* He sees the Jews as the sworn enemies of Islam. The hostility dates back to the time of Muhammad's own treatment of the Jews in Medina. At first, expediently, Muhammad called the Jews "people of the book," and accorded them a measure of tolerance until he gained enough power to unleash his devastating wrath on them.

* He also says that the Holocaust is a myth. He is, in this respect, in good company with a number of other claimants, and he wants Israel to be wiped out of the map or transferred to Europe.

* He believes that the earth is Allah's and all people must either become believers of his brand of Islam or must perish as infidels who by their very own presence defile Allah's earth.

* He believes that this earthly life is passing and worthless in comparison to the afterlife awaiting a devoted and faithful believer. Hence, he holds to the old belief that if a faithful kills and infidel, he goes to Allah's paradise; and, if the faithful gets killed in the process of serving the faith, again he goes to Allah's paradise. Hence, it is a win-win proposition for the faithful."

[In short], there is nothing "unhinged" about Ahmadinejad's thinking, statements and actions within the cultural and religious framework from which he comes. They are internally consistent. He is simply a fanatic who is wedded to an extremely dangerous exclusionary system of belief."


 

(iii.) You say it's preposterous, all this theological poppycock? Well wait! it get's even more whacko.

Ahmadinejad, you see, has backed up his wild occult fantasies with concrete actions.

Among other things, as the former mayor of Tehran, he developed elaborate, detailed plans for improving Tehran's roads and boulevards . . . the better, you see --- when the Mahdi geysers up out of his watery abode and triggers Allah's Judgment-Day slaughter-of-the-infidels and wonder-work on behalf of Muslims --- for the ecstatic swarms of his true, non-wavering devotees to mob the Savior and manifest their elated gratitude for what purified Showdown-Islam will do for Islam and the world . . . and especially to Islam's devilish enemies. And that's not all. With his hand on public funds, Ahmadinejad diverted hefty sums to improve the road from nearby Qum to the Mahdi's murky water-well retreat on its outskirts . . . though whether to make it easier for the Miracle-Worker Specter-Incarnate to hotfoot it to Tehran itself, or to have the purified, now ecstatically saved Muslims world-wide to travel to the Messianic Spook's Water-Hideaway itself and marvel over its wonders, isn't something that cagy Ahmadinejad ever let on.

All these opulent expenditures, mind you, in a country of 70 million people, about half of whom live in poverty despite the country's oil riches.


 

(iv.) Seems ever more nutty, no? . . . something, say, out of a bad science-fiction movie-script rejected by Hollywood moguls as a sure box-office flop? Too unbelievable, babe; sorry! Or possibly one of Philip Dick's lunatic drug-induced stories that, when he sobered up for a moment or two, the talented crazy --- after reading it --- tore up and flushed down the toilet as junk-stuff . . . only for the sewage to somehow wash up 12,000 miles away in the water-supply that Ahmadinejad has been drinking for the last two decades?

Maybe so, but think again.

However lunatic the rabid bombast and flipped-out actions might seem, not only is it clear that Ahmadinejad believes with the fervor of a little child in this kinky religious mumbo-jumbo with its weirdo eschatology --- which includes every detail regarding the imminent Judgment Day Showdown for the world when the Mahdi surges up out of his dank, wet abode and defeats the infidels, Muslim sin, human misery, and the failure of Iran's soccer team to make it past the 1st round of the World Cup --- but, surprise! surprise! . . . this hocus-pocus occultism is part and parcel of the general, widely idolized teachings and messianic hopes of the semi-secretive Hojatieh sect of Shiite Islam, in which, from an early age on, Ahmadinejad learned all these deranged necromantic bewitchments. There are hundreds of thousands of Iranians who, to one degree or another, follow those teachings and embrace those blissful, Kingdom-come hopes.


 

(v.) Most Shiites, it's true --- yes, even radical jihadi fundamentalists --- don't adhere to the Hojatieh sect. The majority of Iranian clerics regard many of its theocratic credos and certitudes as heretical. As it happened, they even proved too much for the Ayatollah Khomeini . . . the firebrand revolutionary and vicious jihadi-warrior and terrorist- who master-minded the overthrow of the Shah's regime in 1979 and instituted the clerical-fascist totalitarianism and its reign of terror that dominated Iranian life until his death a decade later.

In 1983, he even banned the sect from publicly espousing its dogmas . . . an act that sent its members into clandestine study and propagation.

 

(vi.) Something to ponder here: what vexed Khomeini about the Hojatieh devotees wasn't their eschatological, end-of-misery-and-suffering except for infidels theological credo about the Messianic Mahdi's eventual reappearance. All Shiites believe this. That's what makes them Shiites and not Sunnis.

Rather, Khomeini's attacks on the sect apparently had other motives. As the most important cleric in the last 1000 years of Shiite Islam, he doubted that the elusive, hide-and-seek Mahdi was about to return. The Hard-to-See-or-Find Savior-of-Islam, you see, couldn't surge up out of the well any time soon because, according to Khomeini --- a typical totalitarian megalomaniac, only with religious bughouse convictions instead of secular ones --- before the Hidden Imam burst into flesh-and-blood incarnation once more and saved the world for true Islam, there was still much preparatory spadework to be done. Specifically, Allah's chief servant on earth after 1979 had to muster the Muslim world to do more by means of jihadi terror and warfare to kill the infidels or force them to submit to Islam, so that Islam could re-emerge as the global super-power again, all united under some Caliphate that caused awe in everyone's eyes. All this busy work and slaughter, according to Khomeini, had to be accomplished in order for Mohammed's prophetic role was fulfilled, after which the Mahdi's magical skyhootings would then materialize.

Khomeini, mind you, wasn't reticent about the need for a collective Holocaust-like beheading of non-Muslims world-wide, as part of Islam's Allah-ordained destiny for Islam to conquer the world:


Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled or incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of other countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world.. .. But those who study Islamic Holy \War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world. . . . Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those who say this are witless.

"Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does this mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by [the unbelievers]? Islam says: Kill them [the non-Muslims], put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]. Does this mean sitting back until [non-Muslims] overcome us? Islam says: Kill in the service of Allah those who may want to kill you! Does this mean that we should surrender [to the enemy]?

"Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for the Holy Warriors! There are hundreds of other [Qur'anic] psalms and Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet] urging Muslims to value war and to fight.

"Does all this mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim."


 

(vii.) A query: guess who was supposed to be the instrument of Mohammed himself in ensuring that the busy work was to be accomplished in his lifetime or at least of his immediate successors?

You're right! . . . the Ayatollah Khomeini himself, 2nd only to Mohammed himself --- or maybe 3rd, depending on when the now-you-see-him, now-you-don't Hidden Imam stopped being coy and showed up for his Showdown Miracles --- to prepare the world for the Mahdi-Savior's Judgment Day wonders. Not that this theological claptrap was the only difference that separated Khomeini from the Hojatieh sect. Unbridled power-lust also no doubt crackled in his mind. It always does for the last century's mass-murdering, terror-inducing totalitarian dictators --- whether Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and North Korea's vertically challenged fiend, not to forget their tin-pot imitators around the developing world. One and all, they've proved to be rabid megalomaniacs to the core and raving monstrous sociopaths with millions of death on their hands.

Most likely, then, a fanatical religious totalitarian like Khomeini was no more willing to have his power and authority challenged than Stalin had been to let Trotsky or the "right-wing" deviants in the Russian Communist Party to challenge his pronouncements and policy dogmas in the late 1920s and 1930s.


 

The Sect Resurgent in the Ahmadinejad Era

Needless to add, the Hojatieh sect didn't disappear in its underground status during the rest of Khomeini's era, and it returned into the open soon after his death in 1989 . . . more influential than ever, what with Ahmadinejad's election last year as Iran's president. He has been rumored to oblige each and every member of his cabinet to swear fealty to the Hidden Imam before they could assume their governmental posts.

Alas, there are no public estimates of the Hojatieh sect's membership, but it appears, to repeat, to be wider than ever and, with Ahmadinejad's election, to have devotees in his Cabinet and elsewhere in the Iranian government. For an informative interview on this topic with a moderate Shiite cleric who opposes radical and extremist Islamic influences in Iran, whatever the form, click here In another article at the same web site, you'll find some commentary on the marked extent to which Ahmadinejad --- no sooner arrived in power --- moved to purge the Iranian military at all levels of the officer corps of suspected "moderates" and to replace them with men who share his extremist beliefs.

More ominous yet, the lead cleric in the Hojatieh sect, Mesbah Yazdi --- who also happens to be Ahmadinejad's personal mentor --- has, according to a former US intelligence officer in Iran, already elbowed himself into competition to replace the ailing Ayatollah Khamenei and take power as Iran's Supreme Leader. Alan Peters is one of those dozen or so multi-talented specialists world-wide that the two previous buggy articles mentioned: a former intelligence specialist in Iran before 1979, he not only speaks Farsi (and Arabic) and knows Iran well, but also has specific expertise in military matters. You have to admire his insights --- however speculative they necessarily remain.

 

PART TWO:
WHAT EXPAINS AHMADINEJAD'S GROWING POPULARITY IN GLOBAL ISLAM?


This extravagant hocus-pocus bombast isn't, observe swiftly, for just the benefit of Iranians or Muslims in the Middle East. Far from it, in the year since his arrival in power, Ahmadinejad's necrophilic Showdown- Superstitions and defiant blowhard swagger toward the US, Europe, Russia, and China have generated jubilant celebration of a comic-opera sort among Muslims world-wide. As you read through the analysis that follows, keep in mind what we mean by "global Islam". Specifically, we're referring to the volatile, largely ignorant masses who populate the Arab street and its counterparts elsewhere in Islam, plus those Muslims who are enthusiastic about extremist terrorist movements like Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al Qaeda, the Algerian GIA, and so on.

It's self-evident, by contrast, that whatever the Sunni Arab street-mobs believe or do, the Sunni leaders in the Persian Gulf area, the rest of the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia are themselves not enthusiasts of these movements, let alone Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's lurid and apocalyptic death-factory fantasies.

The Starting Point of His Global Fame

If there's any specific beginning to Ahmadinejad's global celebrity-status as the newest Muslim Savior-Hero --- the latest, as we'll see later on, in a long list of big-mouthed Arab and Iranian Strongmen Dictators who promise to smite Islam's enemies and restore Islam's power, prestige, and glory around the world --- it would be September 17th 2005 just two months after his election as Iran's president. When Ahmadinejad addressed the UN General Assembly on that day, his three-ring magical fireworks were gaudily on world display for the first time. In the course of a windy harangue, he beseeched the Hidden Clerical-Specter, the Messianic Mahdi, to show himself as soon as it's convenient, the better to unfold his Allah-ordained wonder-work and save the world for purified Islam.

Soon afterwards, the oracular cult-junkie insisted that a mighty Allah-sent light had infused and surrounded him as he harangued the General Assembly, to the point --- get this! --- that the pop-eyed delegates in attendance were held immobilized and couldn't even blink.

I felt [the light] myself, too," Ahmadinejad said, according to press reports. "I felt that all of a sudden, the atmosphere changed there. And for 27 to 28 minutes, all the leaders did not blink.... It's not an exaggeration, because I was looking. They were astonished, as if a hand held them there and made them sit. It had opened their eyes and ears for the message of the Islamic Republic."

What can you say?

Most people speaking at the UN --- or anywhere else --- understand what a spotlight can do; not, though, the monomanical personal vassal of the Messianic Mahdi himself. To his obsessively dogmatic mind, the eerie light that he claimed to envelope him was added proof of his status as a chosen Islamic wizard of history-making proportions, generated, apparently, by a horde of unseen Ready-Kilowatt angels on high . . . and further proof, come to that, of his Allah-designated role to hasten the Mahdi's return and the Apocalyptic showdown between infidel-evil and purified Muslim-good, when chaos, violence, warfare, and death will rage throughout the world until intransigent infidels are killed off and repentant, true-believing Muslims miraculously find themselves living in a world without any misery, suffering, or pain.

Hard to believe, you say? Granted, but wait --- it gets wackier.

To facilitate the just-over-the-horizon homecoming of the Mahdi, Ahmadinejad --- who sees himself as the Islamic Messiah's personal servant and a pivotal instrument in hastening the peek-a-boo holy spook's return --- has held several telepathic tête-à-têtes, it's reported, with the Hidden Imam both in the inner recesses of his presidential palace and at the Mahdi's alleged hide-out at the bottom of a murky well near the holy city of Qum . . . the poor ghostly guy stashed out there for at least 1000 years now or, if you're a Sunni, ever since Mohammed's revelations 400 years earlier.

Again, Faced with Such Theocratic Lunacies, What Can You Say?

Well, for one thing you have to give credit where it's due. In civilized countries, you understand, a leader who claims to have jivey talk-fests with imaginary all-powerful companions is considered mad and ends up in psycho-ward treatment for the mentally deranged. If, additionally, he pounds his chest in defiance of all the great and mid-level police forces in the community and brags about his forthcoming weapons purchases, the place where he ends up is in an asylum for the criminally insane, and he's placed under careful guard.

Not so in Iran or apparently elsewhere in Islam though; just the opposite. If anything, the more Ahmadinejad vents his batty religious balderdash --- including the predicted extinction of Israel and denial of the Holocaust --- the more his hot-air necromanic obsessions are greeted world-wide with wild-eyed jubilation in most Muslim societies; and no doubt not just in of all Muslim-ruled ones, but among the poorly educated, alienated Muslims in West Europe.

But then, when you get down to it, what do you expect of a global population whose great statesmen of the last 61 years are mass-murdering dictators idolized by the fickle and ignorant: slaughter-house Indonesian autocrats, mad-men Iranian ayatollahs who toppled a megalomaniac Shah, the Hitler-admiring mass-torturer Saddam Hussein, and Colonel Nasser the Pan-Arab dictator of Egypt who plunged his country into a series of disastrous war . . . not to forget the homicidal Presidents-for-Life Assad Sr. and little Jr of Syria, Colonel Fruitcake Quadafi, the Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem (condemned to death by the Nuremburg Tribunals as a war criminal) and his disciple, the terrorist Yasser Arafat . . . who cultivated his people's illusions for decades while milking them dry with corruption to the rafters. Then, too, to go on, the profligate debauchee money-bags in charge of Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, the Taliban Hitler-imitators, the genocidal military junta in charge of Sudan, and the warlords in Somalia who specialize in stealing most of the food aid for their starving people. Not to forget the lovelies in opposition or now in government, all full of spiritual manliness in service of Islam with lots of Kabooming evidence, who dominate Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Muslim Brotherhood, Algeria's GIA monsters, Southeast Asia's equivalents, and the tin-pot terrorists in Spain, Britain, and for that matter all over the EU?

But Note: A Problem Rears Up Here Suddenly

Namely?

Well, however sound the analysis of the last few paragraphs happens to be, we haven't yet uncovered the much deeper, long-rooted reasons for Ahmadinejad's rocketing popularity of the last year in global Islam, even among the largely illiterate and semi-literate Sunni populations.

It's not enough, you see, to point to his lunatic harangue at the UN General Assembly and the attendant angel-sent illumination or his long rambling letter --- full of religious abracadabra inviting George W. Bush to convert to Islam --- that he posted earlier this year. Not enough either to highlight his conspiratorial views of Jews and Israel and his reiterated Holocaust-denial, along with repetitive threats that Israel will soon be wiped off the map . . . however joyfully these are received almost everywhere in Islam these days. Nor enough, for that matter, to find that raging Muslim mobs --- whenever they're not busy burning Christian churches and torching embassies to protest Danish cartoons, or slaughtering infidels in Nigeria because of a Miss World Contest, or massacring Buddhists in Thailand or Hindus in India or Christians in East Timor and Sudan and Russia, or rapturously shooting their guns heaven-way at the latest news that Hamas or Islamic Jihad has Kaboomed an Israeli café or market --- go ape and make whoopee whenever a fist-shaking leader of big Muslim country engages in raving bombast and nuclear braggadocio that defy the powerful Western countries as well as Russia, India, and China.

Granted: Ahmadinejad's truculent gestures and the weirdo conspiratorial hokum, animated by off-and-on threats, are obviously sources of frantic acclaim and instant spotlight-infused stardom all over Islam these days --- without fail, occasions for excited hot-wire celebration by the half-wit ignoramuses that comprise the Arab street and its counterparts elsewhere in Islam, at any rate until reality sets in . . . which in the 47 Islamic-ruled countries is anything but a source of daily joy and satisfaction.

Still, these sources of his heroic celebrity are not the deep-buried causes of his galloping popularity. Rather, . . .

These Taproots Lie Elsewhere

Tersely put, they're tightly entwined with Islam's long history as an aggressive and expanding global powering for its first 1000 years --- only, starting in the 18th century, to experience the opposite . . . a sharp and unremitting plunge in wealth, knowledge, power, prestige, and awe, Until 1700, Islam's continued military expansion in several imperial waves everywhere in the world except Northern Europe and the Americas was a source of pride and of comforting certitude that Islam embodied eternal truths and was Allah-destined to rule the entire world.

Today, more than 300 years later, it's topsy-turvy everywhere in Islam. There's little power, no noticeable wealth other than oil resources, no prestige, scant influence, and no awe whatsoever; and so, consequently, no pride or certainty about Islam any more. Instead, the opposite psychic outlook: slow-burn bafflement, fast-burn shame and humiliation, and crackling resentments galore, full of raw, largely uncontrollable urges for revenge.

 

Part Two:
SO, TO GET DOWN TO BUSINESS, WHAT ARE THESE DEEPER CAUSES OF AHMADINEJAD'S POPULARITY IN GLOBAL ISLAM, EVEN AMONG SUNNIS?


The Answer Requires a Double-Barreled Analysis

First, we need to set out a fast, too-skimming survey of the ups and downs in Islamic history . . . the brief task here, even if superficially carried out, something of an indispensable prelude to the major analytical thrusts that follow. Understand the barebones nature of Islam's tightly entangled history as both a religion and an Allah-ordinary global power destined to triumph everywhere, and you will then be able to make sense of those probing comments.

Second, then, against this historical background --- especially Islam's rapid decline in power and prestige since 1700 --- we need to sift out and examine the trio of emotionally charged mental responses that prevail these days among the Muslim masses in dozens of countries. Together, these garbled, half-lunatic passions and understanding of the world form a psychic syndrome of a raw dislocating nature ---shot through with conspiratorial mumbo-jumbo and urges for revenge --- that pass for commonplaces in the Arab street and its unhinged counterparts elsewhere in Islam.

Strip away the psychological ornament of this volatile mind-set, and you get essentially these three skeleton ingredients:

* Most Muslims blame others for Islam's blatant economic, technological, and military backwardness --- especially the evil infidels in America, Europe, Russia, and India, all of whom, somehow, are controlled by Jews . . . always depicted in lurid, conspiratorial ways indistinguishable from Nazi propaganda, and against whom vengeance must be wreaked if Islam's puny status and economy backwardness are to be overcome. Enter Ahmadinejad's ranting swagger about Israel, Jews, and the Holocaust, plus his belligerent defiance of them all over and again. Though he no doubt believes each and every screwball fantasy in this litany, its constant iteration seems calculated too . . . intended to stroke fist-shaking jubilation all over the backward Islamic countries among the illiterate and semi-literate masses even in Sunni Arab countries--- not that their leaders share the truculent joy. Very much the contrary..

Note, as some striking evidence here, what happened at the rip-roaring Islamic Summit Conference held in Malaysia back in late 2003. In his host role, a gentleman to the last, Mahathir Mohamad --- the semi-dictator of Malaysia itself --- said this about the rife, high-charged sense of humiliation that infests the Islamic world these days:

"I will not enumerate the instances of our humiliation," Mr. Mahathir said. "We are all Muslims. We are all oppressed. We are all being humiliated. . . . Today we, the whole Muslim [community], are treated with contempt and dishonor. . . . There is a feeling of hopelessness among the Muslim countries and their people. They feel that they can do nothing right." He added: "Our only reaction is to become more and more angry. Angry people cannot think properly."

And the causes of this blazing sense of shame and enraged humiliation? For Mahathir, the poor Muslims --- all 1.2 billion of them world-wide --- couldn't compete with Islam's alleged chief adversary, 15 million Jews, their arrogant enemy. "We are", he said,

"up against a people who think. They survived 2000 years of pogroms not by hitting back, but by thinking. They invented and successfully promoted Socialism, Communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so they may enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power. We cannot fight them through brawn alone. We must use our brains also."

* Most Muslims look to some Islamic Strongman-Hero to arise somewhere --- anywhere! --- who promises like Saladin a millennium earlier to carry out this vengeance: to slay the infidels, destroy the Jews, and restore instantly, as if by magic, Islamic power, wealth, and prestige in the world. What do you expect of peoples whose understanding of economics, technology, science, and secular knowledge are on a par with Neandrathals marveling at a fire near their cave-entrance started by lightning? Still, magic and miracles of stupendous nature are inseparable. In this way, the Strongman-Savior of the day will wipe out the haunting sense of shame and humiliation that Islam's ever more blatant backwardness has caused. Understand this, and you understand why Ahmadinejad turns out to be only the latest of these bellicose, chest-thumping Islamic Champions to emerge since WWII . . . all swaggering, mass-murdering dictators who resorted to war as a way to wreak vengeance on Islam's alleged enemies everywhere; and disastrous flops without exception.

This time surely --- surely!!! --- it will be different, what with a nuclear force, no doubt Allah-ordained, at his disposal.

*With the failure of these earlier Strongmen-Saviors --- all of whom brought only catastrophes to their countries --- Muslims since 9/11 have in large number shifted their idolizing views to the Kabooming Superstar-Jihadists in al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, not to forget their spin-offs and imitators world-wide. Islamic traditions endorse such violent jihad. For that matter, no mercy to those who resist Islam's allurements is also endorsed --- witness these Koranic verses that were featured in a recent article by the world's foremost specialist on non-whitewashed jihadi traditions, Andrew Bostom.

Muslims are enjoined to fight and murder nonbelievers—woe unto those who shirk these campaigns—but those who are killed fighting for the one true religion, i.e., Islam, will be rewarded amply in the afterlife. A sampling of such verses, which established these eternal injunctions, are included below:



47:4: "Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds"



9:29: "Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection."



4:76: "Those who believe fight in the way of Allah, and those who disbelieve fight in the way of the Shaitan. Fight therefore against the friends of the Shaitan; surely the strategy of the Shaitan is weak."



8:12: "When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them."



8:38-39: "Say to the Unbelievers, if (now) they desist (from Unbelief), their past would be forgiven them; but if they persist, the punishment of those before them is already (a matter of warning for them). And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do."



9:39: "If you do not go forth, He will chastise you with a painful chastisement and bring in your place a people other than you, and you will do Him no harm; and Allah has power over all things."



4:74: "Therefore let those fight in the way of Allah, who sell this world's life for the hereafter; and whoever fights in the way of Allah, then be he slain or be he victorious, We shall grant him a mighty reward."



9:111: "Surely Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have the garden; they fight in Allah's way, so they slay and are slain; a promise which is binding on Him in the Taurat and the Injeel and the Quran; and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? Rejoice therefore in the pledge which you have made; and that is the mighty achievement."






Hence, besides his fervent convictions once more, Ahmadinejad's stepped-up support in weaponry and money to Hezbollah and Hamas, its protégés . . . and almost certainly his encouragement of their provocative behavior in Gaza and more recently in Lebanon. Hence, too --- besides his obvious desire to see Israel defeated sooner or later (or wiped off the map in a big blast strike) --- the bombastic warnings to Israel in the war with Hezbollah that started two weeks ago.

Such gestures count powerfully in the eyes of the credulous, ever hopeful massed-morons of the raging Arab street and their counterparts elsewhere in Islam. They solidify the status of the fervent vassal of the Messianic Mahdi-Savior as Islam's latest Pin-up Idol. . . especially since, as we'll see, bin Laden's No. 1 rating on the Strongman Top 100 since 9/11 has now been pushed way, way down the list in recent opinion polls . . . another has-been, his promise of Islamic Salvation one more fatuous will-o-the-wisp fantasy. But then will Ahmadinejad's Leading-Role Stardom even last 4 years before his plunge into the black-hole of the forgotten Strong-Arm Saviors of the past?

 

The rest of the buggy analysis in this part will appear soon in the next buggy article.