Ahmadinejad's apocalyse fantasy

Michael Burleigh:

One person we will be hearing much about in 2007 will be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He's the hollow-eyed engineer and town planner (and former Revolutionary Guard) who in 2005 went from being Teheran's answer to Ken Livingstone to President of Iran. He's the fellow stringing along the international community while his scientists try to manufacture a nuclear bomb before America or Israel decides to degrade or destroy key experimental sites. He says appalling things with demented glee in his eyes.

According to today's Spectator, Ahmadinejad may actually welcome such an attack, since this will "justify" a retaliatory strike against Israel with nuclear weapons acquired from the former Soviet Union. Certainly, Iran's dark role in arming Hizbollah, and even darker machinations in Iraq, suggest an almost wilful disregard for consequences.

Who is Ahmadinejad? In some respects, he resembles those with whom he consorts to ramble on about American imperialism and the wretched of the earth: Hugo Chávez, Robert Mugabe and Fidel Castro. Actually, Ahmadinejad is subtly different: you have to grasp a fusion of apocalyptic piety and politics to get what he is about.

Among the lesser-known godfathers of the 1979 Iranian Revolution was the French educated Ali Sharati, who died of a heart attack two years before Khomeni came to power. Sharati's story reminds us of the extent to which various "indigenous" radicalisms are indebted to intellectual contaminants from Western academe.

Just as Pol Pot was a product of academic craziness imbibed at the Sorbonne, so Sharati was much taken with how Frantz Fanon and Jean-Paul Sartre tried to revive Marxism through talk of cathartic revolutionary violence and the return to the supposed purity of the pre-modern collective. Sharati incorporated these worldly concerns with the Shia longing for the return of the Twelfth Hidden Imam, who departed this earth in 874. The one cleric not to denounce Sharati as a heretic was Khomeni, himself responsible for the slogan "Islam is politics".

Ahmadinejad is unique, not because of his pronouncements about Israel, which he wishes wiped off the face of the earth, but because he actively seeks to bring about an apocalyptic struggle between the righteous and the wicked to accelerate the return of the mahdi or Hidden Imam.

One might think that the prospect of US or Israeli bombs raining down on Iran might sober this visionary. That would be a mistake. Khomeni actually incited war with Iraq in 1980, rejecting Saddam's offers of an armistice two years later. During the eight-year war, an enormous militia, called the Basij, was created under the aegis of the Revolutionary Guard. Boys aged 12 to 17 were dispatched against the Iraqi army, each armed with a plastic key to paradise, manufactured in bulk in Taiwan. A ghostly pale rider occasionally appeared, whose phosphorous-painted face was supposed to be that of the Hidden Imam, to urge these suicide waves on. Mowing these children down — and perhaps as many as 100,000 were killed — was so traumatic that even battle-hardened Iraqi veterans declined to fire.

No Western-style commissions of inquiry have investigated these state-decreed mass suicides between 1980 and 1988. Instead, the Basji are celebrated, with the countenance of one 15-year-old suicide, who detonated himself against an Iraqi tank, evident in the watermark of 500 Rial bank notes.

The theme from Mash will not dissuade these religious bigots, nor will reason. We continue to make the gift of time to them while they complete their weapon production. We do this not to appease them, but the appease the Euros and the multilateralist who want to do nothing but filibuster in the face of a determined enemy.

As this Washington Times Editorial points out even the left wing Israelis recognize the danger that time affords their enemy's in Iran.


Popular posts from this blog

Should Republicans go ahead and add Supreme Court Justices to head off Democrats

29 % of companies say they are unlikely to keep insurance after Obamacare

Bin Laden's concern about Zarqawi's remains