Blogs > HNN > The Rejectionists Are Losing It: Will Timely World Action Prevent War?

May 1, 2006 5:05 pm

The Rejectionists Are Losing It: Will Timely World Action Prevent War?

Ms. Klinghoffer is senior associate scholar at the Political Science department at Rutgers University, Camden, and the author of Vietnam, Jews and the Middle East. She is also an HNN blogger.

It would be funny had it not been deadly serious. The forces of democracy and moderation may be still floundering, but the Iranian/Syrian/Hizbullah rejectionist coalition is slowly coming to terms with the fact that its worse may not be bad enough to block the push for reform.

Ahmadinejad's holocaust denial coupled with a call to resettle the Israelis somewhere in Europe or Alaska is scaring even those who love defying the US and/or hoping to see Israel disappear. So, Bush is comfortable again in talking about Iran being a member of the axis of evil and, as such, a candidate for a regime change. The new female German Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted to organize a special meeting of EU leaders before the scheduled round of EU-Iran talks about the Iranian nuclear program next week. She wanted the European leaders to read Iran the riot act in unison. They did. It is difficult to imagine even Russia or China not rankled by the sheer lunacy exhibited by the Iranian regime or disturbed by the idea of Ahmadinejad in possession of a nuclear button. In fact, their verbal response has been quite ferocious.

Nationalist Abdullah Iskandar complains that Iran is scaring the Gulf States straight into American arms:

If Iran wants to make the resolution of the conflict with Israel as the means to administer its nuclear file, then, this file will add to the worry of the Gulf States, which consider that the Iranian intervention in Iraq and the region come at its expense. Many Gulf senior official has expressed fears from Iran's intentions in the region, based on the experience of dealing with the internal oppositions and the occupation of the Emirati islands. The logic of power Iran imposes might push the Gulf States, collectively or individually, to ask for foreign security cooperation. It is a choice that can be avoided if Iran is convinced with the benefit of the suggested dialogue.

Of course, none of this can get the old guard to overcome its own taboos:

The Iranian President knows that such words would lead to Western condemnation and criticism, thus, enhancing his aspired image for Iran as the sole country confronting the West and exposing its connivance with Israel. On the other hand, he is well-aware that no one in the region would publicly reply, fearing to fall into the taboo position of defending Israel.

In the meantime, Iran's closest ally, Syria, tries to scare Lebanon straight through a series of assassinations. But, following the Iraqi's example, the Lebanese refuse to budge. Abdel Wahab Badrakhan writes:

They assassinated Gebran Tueini. In fact, Gebran surrendered to them. He knew he was on"the list". He had a letter signed by judge Detlev Mehlis warning him that he is in an advanced position on the"list" and that the"death squad" is lurking him. The letter specified that the next target on the"list" is Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir. There is no doubt that one of the witnesses, or one of the suspects, provided the information to the international investigator, since the"list" only resumes a convoy started with the assassination attempt against Marwan Hamadeh; followed by the assassination of Rafik Hariri and his companions; the assassination of Samir Kassir and George Hawi, and the two assassination attempts against May Shidiac and Elias Murr; in addition to warning letters addressed to a number of judges, witnesses, and journalists.

Gebran surrendered to the killers. His courage defeated his vigilance; his sense of freedom defeated his fear over his life; his commitment defeated his concern over his safety and his longing to be in Beirut defeated the allegation made by his family and friends about his recklessness. Soon after his return, he was at the forefront of the Parliament with his companions, calling for an international tribunal to look into the mass graves issue. He was, as always, outspoken and daring in naming things and pointing to those responsible for the graves, as well as those seeking to hide facts.

In fact, the Lebanese have grown more and more emboldened. The wily Walid Jumblat dares go so far as to argue that it's time for Assad to go:"This time this regime should change (and) should be tried. . . . This guy in Damascus is sick. If he stays, we won't have stability in the Middle East. Anyone who opposes the Syrian regime is assassinated. They execute you then they cry for you; walk at your funeral. They will try to invent all kinds of excuses." In other words, Assad should follow Saddam on the dock.

The Syrian ambassador to the UN is an excellent example of just how unhinged the Syrian ruling elite has become:

Mr. Mekdad blamed Israel for his country's increased isolation and dismissed the Lebanese Cabinet's request to expand the Hariri investigation to probe six other alleged political assassinations. The request came after Monday's bombing in Beirut that left four people dead, including Tueni, an anti-Syrian legislator and journalist. It was endorsed last night in a French proposal for a Security Council resolution.

"So now every time that a dog dies in Beirut there will be an international investigation?" Mr. Mekdad said to an Arab diplomat during a closed-door council session, according to a diplomat who heard the conversation but asked to remain anonymous.

Trying to stick close to its Iranian mentor, Hizbullah seconds Ahmadinejad's rhetoric during a TV Symposium by calling for Israel to be wiped off the map and stating that"Just Like Hitler Fought The Jews…We Too Should Fight The Jews and Burn Them." The language smacks of desperation born out of the growing realization that its time, just as the time of Hamas, has past. Khaleej Time's Mohammed A.R. Galadari explains:

Dear readers, whoever attacks civilians are now seen as terrorists, irrespective of whether or not they uphold a common cause or act in public interest. Violence against people will be considered as terrorist attacks because the world can no more differentiate between genuine struggle by those who uphold causes like the Hamas, or those who are bent upon organizing terror acts for the sake of terror or to satisfy their whims.

And here we come full circle, the so called moderate Iranian presidential candidat, Rafsanjani, has just seconded Ahmadinejad's call for the destrution of of Israel and he did so in a meeting with Hamas:

The new political developments in the region and the all-out struggle of the Palestinian resistance, will cause the end of Israel. . . . The pressures faced by some Islamic countries such as the Islamic Republic [Iran], Lebanon and Syria, are prompted by their support for the Palestinian cause and the revolutionary movements that fight Zionism.

As I have noted before the Iranian behavior is reminiscent of the Egyptian line prior to the Six Day War. Then, the US was mired in Vietnam. Now, it is supposedly mired in Iraq. Then, as now, Israeli political turmoil is mistaken for weakness. Of course, then the American army was much further from Egypt than that army is today from Iran. Nor is Russia, the old Soviet Union. The only similarity between the two case is the old notion that when in trouble, attack the usual suspects, Jews and the Jewish state.

In short, the Middle Eastern permafrost is melting and the water is putrid. Luckily, flowing waters, unlike standing ones, tend to purify themselves. Ultimately, the price we will pay for the purification will depend on the international response. The more resolute the response, the lower the price.

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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Except for his inane remark re the Holocaust, which is not only counterproductive but equally inconsequential, the declarations of President Ahmedinajjad, should be soberly considered .
Their importance springs from the fact that an ever increasing number of Arabs and Moslems, some reluctantly, have to the same conclusion.
That the only way to reverse, or at least contain, Israeli territorial expantionism and regional hegemony is through the dismantling of the Zionist state of Israel; in which phrase the key words are, for some, "Zionist state" and not necessarily "Israel" the people/nation !
To the overwhelming majority of Arabs and Moslems that conclusion is based on two fundemental undeniable facts:
- Israeli/Zionist Expansionism through the annexation of Arab East Jerusalem, the building of settlements in occupied Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan Heights, the expropriation of Arab lands in both occupied territories and most recently the construction of the Wall.
- The diminishing restraining influence, if ever that was desired, of both the USA and the EU (= the WEST) on Israeli/Zionist expansionism.
It is now plain for all to see that UNSC resolutionns 242 and 338, once universally perceived , and reluctantly accepted by some, as a "land" for "peace" settlement of the conflict, are not only a dead letter with both potential "mediators" but are being constantly superceded and contradicted by blatant ACTION and INACTION by either or both parties.
The ACTION being the continued flow of open direct USA, and indirect EU, financial support without which the building of SETTLEMENTS would have stopped.
The INACTION being the only thing with which the construction of the WALL was met.
With the failure of all Arab and Moslem "peace initiatives" and the de facto dismissal of the Road Map Ahmedinejjad is, to an ever increasing majority, the only voice, backed by a powerfull nation, that is correctly diagnosing the illness and prescribing the bitter, but inevitable, remedy.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"The more resolute the response, the lower the price", proclaimeth the blogger here. Well, sometimes maybe. Resolution amongst inmates in insane aslyums, for example, does not make them cheaper to run.

This piece is a predictable mish mash of misleading historical analogies and irrelevant bravado. That demagogues in Iraq are ready to exploit opportunities arising from a pathologically incompetent American administration ought to have raised the question of how such incompetency managed to run rampant. The question rings out more urgently the more incesssant the attempts (like this one) to bury it.

There were many voices of sanity from across the "political spectrum" warning against half-assed pseudo-imperialist adventurism in Iraq in 2003. Including some who for very good reasons decided, when they were running things, not to dispose of Saddam (when, for instance, this could have been more readily and competently accomplished in 1991).

We now have the biggest mess with Iran since the Tehran hostage days, and things look very likely to get much worse. It is high time to stop denying the importance of better understanding how America bogged itself down in an Iraqi quagmire making it much more difficult to deal with the more genuine crisis now unfolding across the Persian Gulf.

Still more deceptive hype and clueless bravado will not extricate us from the messes caused by deceptive hype and arrogant trickery.

There were many voices of sanity from across the political spectrum warning against half-assed pseudo-imperialist adventurism in Iraq. Including those who for very good reasons decided not to dispose of Saddam when this could have been more readily and competently accomplished in 1991.

We now have the biggest mess with Iran since the Tehran hostage days, and things look very likely to get much worse. It is high time to stop denying how America bogged itself down in an Iraqi quagmire making it much more difficult to deal with the more genuine crisis unfolding across the Persian Gulf.

Still more deceptive hype and clueless bravado will not extricate us from the messes caused by deceptive hype and arrogant trickery.S

Peter K. Clarke - 12/20/2005

I doubt whether Ahmedinajjad has any more genuine, deeply-felt popular support in Iran (let alone in Arab countries) than George W. Bush has in the USA. Maybe I am reading things wrong, but both strike me as uncouth con artists.

What have nuclear weapons done for people of Pakistan or India ? What would such weapons do for burgeoning disoriented masses in Iran ? What are they now doing for Americans, for that matter ? What real difference would it make to the lives of ordinary people in Tehran if Israel absorbs half of Jordan and Lebanon or vanishes completely, or continues muddling along grabbing a few square miles of desert here pulling back from a few there, as over the past decade or so ?

The rantings of Ahmedinajjad have the all the markings of a demogogic sham, a rabble-rousing diversion, a preposterous deceit. Which is not to say his machinations should not be taken seriously (which means carefully, not carelessly as with Klinghoffer). We have seen over the past few years how readily huge numbers in a supposedly more educated and democratic nation, the USA, can be duped by power-hungry buffons who think they are acting under divine inspiration.