Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald discusses the implications of Iranian bellicosity and the increasingly probable Western response:
Suppose you were an Iranian, an ethnic Persian and a Muslim, and were one of the thousands involved in the nuclear bomb project. And you were not a fanatical supporter of the Islamic Republic of Iran, but were rather disturbed by it. Yet you for some reason allowed your sense of national pride to take precedence, and liked the idea of Iran’s refusing to abandon this project, even though you had plenty of evidence that not merely Ahmadinejad, but every Iranian leader in recent history, had made clear that such weapons, if acquired, would be used against Israel. Ahmadinejad does not say something new; he just says it more often and more directly, and with greater evident delight. And you have had your own experiences, or your relatives have, or your friends, with the sheer craziness of the people running Iran. But you wanted Iran to survive.
Perhaps you would guess that the Americans, or the Israelis, or several NATO countries together, would never attempt to destroy the nuclear bomb project. You might think that the various places that contributed to the project were too spread out, and some too well hidden, for any potential attacker to be successful. But what if it were not one attack, but many, doing as much damage as could be done, eliminating certain key contributing establishments, and their personnel. And then, of course, even as remnants of what remained of the Iranian government (which could also be attacked) tried to utter brave words of defiance, another attack, and then a day or week or month or three months later, another one. When Israel bombed the Osirak Reactor in 1981, it was blandly predicted that the Iraqis would have the whole project up and running again with a decade. Twenty-five years later — and no such project, or one likely to be.
So you are that Persian nationalist. You are working on this project for the greater glory of Iran, the Persian civilization that goes back to Cyrus and Darius, that once held much of present-day Iraq, and that today contains a kind of Persian Empire because within its domains, scarcely 50% of the population is Persian. The current Persian Empire is now known as Iran. More than one-third consists of Azeris, in the north — that part of Iran that the Soviet Union seized for a while after World War II (until Western pressure made the Red Army retreat), a place whose population resents Persian domination and has more in common with the inhabitants of Azerbaijan. There are the Baluchis, who have similar resentments. There are the ethnic Arabs of Khuzistan, and its main city, Ahwaz, where so much of Iran’s oil comes from, who have again and again demonstrated their resentment, even hatred, of their Persian masters. The forces of entropy and collapse are there, waiting to be stirred by a great outside force coming in to humiliate and reduce, and possibly end altogether, the power of the central Iranian state.
If the Americans, or others, decide to attack because Iran refuses to stop its nuclear policy, or if the outside attempt to end that project altogether will require extensive collateral damage because the attackers have not been informed as to exactly where to attack, and have to attack, therefore, hither and yon, it is likely to be the kind of attack the consequences of which may end, forever, the state of Iran in its present borders. It will be a little like Turkey, reduced after World War I from its former imperial state to, essentially, Anatolia and a European sliver.
If Iranian nationalists do not work to help the Western powers stop this nuclear project, and help to sabotage it altogether in any way they can, then Iran may end up with the loss of Khuzistan, the Azeri lands, and the Baluchi lands. And let us not forget all the lands inhabited by ethnic Kurds so contemptuous of the Persians and so eager to emulate the Kurds now enjoying at least autonomy, and perhaps a good deal more, in northern Iraq — then Iran may be no more. Greatly reduced in size, greatly reduced in population, deprived of its gas deposits in the north and the oil in Khuzistan, Iran would become much less important to the world, and the ethnic Persians would be left with little ability to sustain the state. They would be without that oil and gas wealth, and with hostile populations rising against the central state.
Is that nuclear project worth it?
Would any Iranian who wished to preserve Iran as a power really protect, rally around, support that nuclear project out of some misguided notion of nationalism?
One now lives, or dreams of returning, to the country now known as Iran.
It could well be the country formerly known as Iran. It all depends on what is done, inside Iran, to stave off the need for attack from outside Iran.
It’s a choice for Iranians.
Let’s see what they decide.