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Home > Politics

Iran vs USA: What's the Beef?

19 May 2006

We're doomed.

There's no point beating about the bush. We're doomed. Doomed with a big capital D, with hand-baskets being prepared for their one-way trip downstairs.

The reason for this chink in our otherwise cheery demeanour is this: we understand the current buzzword doing the rounds in US intelligence circles is 'From Q to N'. That is, a shift of emphasis from Iraq to its rather larger, richer, more heavily militarized neighbour Iran. Doom, as we already said.

However, hideously fiery death aside, this is the kind of thing we like to hear at TFT. Mainly because it's good to have a buzzword or snappy phrase when you're planning toe-to-toe nuclear conflict over the future of the world's fossil fuel resources. It makes all that messy killing and stuff that much funner.

And yes, 'funner' is a real word. It's on the Internet, and by God we need a war with a few laughs after the stunning job we've made of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is hardly surprising to learn that this nonsense is being spoken up and down the so-called intelligence community. Driven by some urge to remain in their jobs past 2008, this can somehow be achieved by sorting the Middle East out by sheer force of numbers in the world's most frightening cock-size competition since Kennedy got his whopper out on the table much to the disgust and envy of Khrushchev.

One gets the feeling that time is being bided for the opportunity to go in and teach those pesky Iranians a lesson in trouser dimensions. Just as Iraq turned out to be a highly convoluted act of revenge for that whole 'Saddam tried to kill my daddy' business, America has neither forgiven nor forgotten the embarrassments of 1979-80 when little revolutionary, formerly friendly Tehran took on the mighty Washington, and won. All our good friends in 'From Q to N' Land need is another Gulf of Tonkin, some bunch of over-enthusiastic Revolutionary Guards going hard at it in those busy, oil-rich shipping lanes; or better still, the goading of an Iran-on-the-ropes to lash out at Israel, and all Hell might well be let loose. We're optimistic types at TFT, as you well know.

Should we be worried, then, that both presidents are what you could charitably call 'bonkers'? At least with Saddam it was all about his own self-interest. Iran's Ahmadinejad is just utterly unpredictable. Saddam's idea of being a murderous dictator would be to see how many people he could flay to death in any given month, then try to beat that record, a hobby he passed onto his sons. (It's actually rather heartening in these days of fragmented families to see such a strong father/son relationship.) The Iranian president will say Death to [insert current Zionist enemy here, but usually Israel, Israel, Denmark or Israel] before going out to build a massive nuclear bomb to fulfil his country's woeful energy needs, as if all that oil and gas wasn't going to be enough. Then, lock up anybody who says it might be a bad idea.

Saddam may have been a madman, but he was Iraq's madman. Ahmadinejad is just plain old fruit 'n' nut.

Both US and Iranian presidents, you will be unsurprised to hear, are rather keen on their own religious beliefs, particularly regarding the old frotting rights to downtown Jerusalem. Bush would be one of the first to float, naked up to heaven on the first wave of the Rapture (with his genitals, of course, pixellated out, in case it happens during half-time during the Superbowl); while Ahmadinejad is particularly optimistic that the Shi'a Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi is going to show up pretty soon, directing the waiting hordes on their way to paradise. It turns out that the best way to achieve both these goals, not to mention ownership of particularly exclusive, yet smouldering parts of the Holy Land is through the end of the world.

You've got to admit it, it's good that they share a common interest.

So why don't both sides take a step back and coolly assess what they're letting themselves in for? We are of the opinion that this has already happened, and the considered opinion is this: 'Hell, we've been planning this one for ten years, why stop now?' In summary: doom.

The Iranian armed forces will be no pushover like their Iraqi neighbours. The Iraqi air force and navy were effectively dismantled following the 1991 war, while the army itself has received no new investment in arms since well before Saddam's ill-fated Kuwaiti adventure. Those rubbish Scud missiles really were the best that Iraq had, and look like a box of fireworks compared with the sheer size and scale of the Iranian arsenal.

Many in the American military and political establishment do not share their political masters' enthusiasm for military action - limited, invasive or nuclear - against Tehran, and for one very good reason. They know they'll lose.

We are, as they say, doomed to repeat the mistakes of history.

Here we go again.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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