The Iran Paradox

The Iran Paradox
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The Iran Paradox

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Iran and the Middle East can be quite a confusing place. Let us look at some quotes from leaders of one of the largest countries in the Middle East, Iran.

1. “Your regular American is not such a great intellectual as we imagine him to be.”

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“He has a huge body. Eats like a pig. He is like a raging bull or a runaway train. America is marching towards its death.”

“These people are slaughterers. They are the greatest thugs in history. They are not the cowboys. They are the cows!” – Member of Ahmadinejad’s party.

2. “Arab and Muslim regimes are betraying their people by failing to confront the Muslim’s real enemies, not only Israel but also the United States. Waging jihad against both of these infidels is a commandment of Allah that cannot be disregarded. Governments have no right to stop their people from fighting the United States. They are disregarding Allah’s commandment to wage jihad for His sake with [their] money and [their] lives, so that Allah’s word will reign supreme” over all non-Muslims.” – Spiritual guide to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran.

3. In August 2004, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad signed a letter decrying: “Savage crimes implemented in Iraq and Palestine by the hands of the Zio-American pact not only against Arabs and Muslims, but against humanity in general.” The letter had the following statement, “the comprehensively savage imperialistic campaign that the U.S. leads against Islam in general, and especially against Iraq.” It raised the fear that Iraq “is becoming a stronghold for the Zionist project.” The letter also called for a jihad against U.S. troops in Iraq.

In November 2004, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: “Koran has established that the Jews are the ones in the highest degree of enmity towards Muslims” and that “there is no peace with the descendants of the apes and pigs”

In July 2007, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a conference: “resistance is the correct way to free the land from the defilement of the Jews. We are not in crisis, but the crisis is one of the Zionist and American enemy.”

In Sept 2007, on the sixth anniversary of 9-11, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggested that the real attackers were unknown; that the U.S. was the world’s “terrorism leader,” and that American military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan were “similar to Pearl Harbor.”

On May 14, 2009, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that America was part of a “Zionist-U.S. conspiracy” to “fulfill their dream of having the borders of the Zionist entity extend from the Nile to the Euphrates.”

On Jan 10, 2009 —Mahmoud Ahmadinejad penned a bitter article on the Brotherhood’s website, referring to Obama as “master of the White House” and calling on Muslims to rise “against the herd of Zionists, descendants of apes and pigs.”

“One American president after another—and most recently, that Obama—talks about American guarantees for the safety of the Zionists in Palestine… He uttered many lies…”

4. On January 27th 2013, a key aide to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated: “U.S. intelligence agencies in cooperation with their counterparts in allied nations during World War II created it [the Holocaust] to destroy the image of their opponents in Germany, and to justify war and massive destruction against military and civilian facilities of the Axis powers, and especially to hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the atomic bomb.”

Let us stop right there, because the quotes can go on and on and on.

How to deal with a nation where the leader makes such comments depends on many factors. Should they be bombed to stop them from getting a nuke, have economic sanctions put on them, negotiate etc.? I personally think there is zero chance of Iran keeping their word, but doubt military action or sanctions will help as they are already are near or past the point of no return. Additionally, the biggest threat of Iran going nuclear was not them using the bomb, but other countries going nuclear, that process has already started. However, that is not the issue here. The point is that  surely almost all Americans would agree that it would be insane for the U.S. to provide weapons to such a nation.

Some readers may have figured out that those quotes are not from the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, rather from the President of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi and his affiliates.  The first quote is from a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (possibly also a parlimentary member but I could not confirm), The second quote is from the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badi, the last quote from a top aide of Mohammed Morsi, you can even see the original article from Badie on the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website here (google translate does decent job).

The sources for the statements are here ( here, here, here and here). Lest anyone doubt the legitimacy of the sources, Morsi himself confirmed the comments but said that they were taken out of context.

It is also important to note that Ahmadinejad has made insane comments, but they have never reached the level which Morsi’s did. Furthermore, contrary to popular perception, Ahmadnejad is not the ruler of Iran. Ayatollah Khamenei holds the power in Iran, the President has a limited role. Khamenei has made extreme statements but not even close to the level reached by Morsi and Badie.  Although the power rests with Morsi, Badie is also very influential in decisions (further reading here). Egypt right now has the most radical leader in the world. In my opinion, the country has a more radical leadership today than Afghanistan had in 1996-2001 under Taliban rule.

However, America is providing Abram tanks and F-16s to the country ruled by these fanatics. Not only are these weapons being provided by the U.S., but U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill! Furthermore, 79 percent of Senators voted in favor of the plan.

The statements (as well of hundreds of others) show that the only difference between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Afghani Taliban, is that the former believes the past way to gain power is through the ballot box. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood has used violence, including the assassination of Egypt’s president in 1981, and is now using violence to beat protestors on the street.

Let us look at this from the realist point of view. The ideologues would say right away that we should not provide weapons to such an extreme leader. However, the realist will offer the following ‘reasons’ for why military aid should be continued. Let us quote one of those ‘realists’ who voted for this package:

Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) recently wanted to put an amendment in a bill that aimed to prevent the Obama administration from transferring F-16s and Abrams tanks to an Egypt. The vote in the Senate was 79-19 against the amendment.

Rejecting Rand Paul’s amendment, Senator Patrick Leahy (D- Vermont) characterized it as simplistic, short-sighted and potentially harmful to U.S. interests.

1.  “His amendment would hinder our military assistance program, licenses for commercial sales of all major military equipment, including aircraft, ships, tanks, armor, parts and so on.

2. “It would mean a loss of thousands of American jobs. We’d incur more than two billion dollars in contract-termination penalties for U.S. taxpayers,” Leahy said.

3. “But we’d also put at risk our access to the Suez Canal, the over flight by the U.S. Air Force over Egyptian territory, cooperation in the Sinai, Gaza, Syria, our emphasis and our ability to keep the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement going.

4. “Removing our ability to be involved, with keeping that peace agreement and our ability to influence those – this is not the way to do it.”

5. In a written statement – provided by the senator’s office – Leahy added that U.S. law “already conditions U.S. military aid on Egypt’s adherence to its peace treaty with Israel, and on protecting fundamental human rights and due process of law. That is current law, and it needs to be faithfully applied.”

1. It would hinder our military assistance program, that is great!

2. It would cost jobs. We do not provide money to terrorists if it will create jobs.  We can sell anti tank missiles to Al Qaida and create jobs for workers. We can sell stealth fighters to North Korea and create many jobs, the argument is foolish. Furthermore, we have numerous allies we could offer the equipment to. Since Egypt is not paying for the weapons, we could offer the military equipment to a great ally of ours, such as Canada and still create lots of jobs. I am not sure America is legally bound to provide these weapons as statement #5 points out. Egypt has already broken the Sinai accord with Israel (see here, here, and here). Furthermore, for pundits who say this is not conclusive proof that Egypt broke the peace treaty, we will discuss points as to why the argument is wrong.

Egypt is also evolving into a brutal dictatorship, as even many Egyptians will state themselves. Furthermore, let Egypt sue the U.S. in international court and we will see who wins!

Leahy’s comments do not fit the test of logic in #1, #2, and #5.

Points #3 and #4 are the ones offered most by realists, and #3 contains several arguments, we will dissect them one by one.

We’d also put at risk our access to the Suez Canal– this is likely a lie, Egypt would not close the Suez, as they would lose a lot of money they make from the canal and the U.S. (and likely many allies who would join in) could easily use force to open it. Furthermore, Iran could easily (temporarily shut down)the straits of Hormuz, but has not done so. Therefore, there is no reason to believe Egypt would do the same with the canal.

Lose over flight by the U.S. Air Force over Egyptian territory– I am not sure how vital this is to U.S. interests. I have never heard of America’s need to fly over Egypt before this statement by Leahy. Furthermore, even if it has some strategic purpose, it likely is not strong enough to justify the sales.

Cooperation in the Sinai– Egypt is letting the Sinai turn into a jihadist mini state. Not including a brief PR stunt when Mursi sent in some troops in late 2012, Egypt is doing almost nothing to stop the problems pestering in the Sinai. Furthermore, it truly is in Egypt’s interest to stop the problems in the Sinai, since the terrorists there are targeting Egyptian security personnel.  So they likely would act whether the U.S. gave aid or not. Right now with the country in turmoil it is put on the backburner. Gaza is similar to Sinai in this regard, it was in Egypt’s interest. Egypt does not want a war right on its border. There is no indication whatsoever that Morsi only stepped in because there was a threat of aid being cut off to the country. There was no threat, Egypt did this for its own selfish reasons, and would have done so whether or not the US provides aid.

Syria– Not sure how Egypt has helped there at all, this seems to have just been thrown into the statement.

Israeli-Egypt peace treaty is the crux of the argument used by realists, and it ties into #4. We will address this in some detail.

Leahy is really the one taking the short sided view as we will explain below. America is bribing Egypt with weapons in order to have influence and protect the peace treaty. If this sounds conterlogical, don’t worry because it is!

Egypt is not going to war with Israel for one reason, they know that they would lose. Egypt is run by such a fanatic that he would gladly start a war if he knew he could win. He has stated this as shown at the beginning of the article and there is no reason to assume he was dishonest only when he says extreme things in Arabic but believe him when he says less radical things in English (as the media and world leaders tend to do). Furthermore, aid from the IMF, Europe and other countries would be cut off if Egypt started a regional war, so it is not only U.S. dollars influencing the leadership of Egypt in this case. Additionally, Qatar plans to invest tens of billions in Egypt over the coming years, the U.S. with $1.4B in weapons is no match. Egypt could use that money to buy advanced weapons from China or Russia. Of course, Egypt wants the money/weapons from America, but it is only a small part of foreign aid, and Egypt has its own self interests for maintaining peace.

In the small case Egypt was wining, there would be a mushroom cloud over Cairo, so we know why there will be no war soon.

However, small scale clashes (as happened in the war of attrition) is more and more likely as the U.S. helps the military become more powerful. The U.S. is actually fuelling an arms race by supplying Israel and Egypt with weapons. Again, it almost seems insane, because it is.

Finally, we will go down the road of predictions. It is impossible to predict the future, but it is possible to dissect intentions. And I have unfortunately been good with some of them regarding Egypt in particular. This is a big if, but if the Brotherhood is able to, they will totally change the country. The Brotherhood has waited over 80 years to take over Egypt and it seemed that the moment had arrived, but Egyptians are fighters and Mursi is facing huge opposition.

However, if the Brotherhood could get through this stage and continue its slow process to controlling the media and army, the country will finally become a total dictatorship. To use a visual example, people should imagine a more radical version of Saudi Arabia (minus tons of oil). If the U.S. keeps helping the Brotherhood, ironically Egypt will evolve to a state where U.S. influence will be nil. They will not have oil to sell, so the U.S. would have no bargaining chips short of threatening war. Based on the Brotherhood’s fanatic ideology its hard to see how the situation with Egypt would not resemble a Sunni version of our relationship with Iran (and in Iran they have lots of oil and a successful and smart middle class).

In summary, Leahy’s words should be used to cite the argument against  him. The administration and Senate are taking a short sided view. It is time to cut off all aid to the lunatic running this country. If we want jobs let’s send the free military jets and tanks to our neighbors up North. Alliances change, Russia and Germany were very close allies in the 1920s and early 1930s. They had a close military relationship as well. In 1941 many of the senior generals leading the German invasion of Russia had visited there as allies only 10 years or so prior. They proceeded to assist in the killing of 25 million people.

America blundered big time in Egypt and unless the opposition can stop Morsi, the country will totally change.  At this juncture Morsi has the power and it is not only not in America’s interests to send weapons to Egypt, but it is against America’s long term interests. We have reached the juncture where Egypt is evolving into an enemy of the U.S. It is time to cut off military aid and do it right away. Anything else would be short-sided.

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