You know the monkeys:
The monkeys' message — see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil — may be a useful one in the context of ordinary social relationships, where gossip is poisonous, but it's an utterly insane way to run the world. Nevertheless, that's precisely what the world is doing vis a vis Iran — it's completely ignoring the evil pouring out of that country. Michael Ledeen makes it very clear that Iran continues to amass weapons (nuclear, chemical, traditional), to target American troups, to foment strife in Iran, and generally to make deadly mischief, while the West sits idly by, mouthing nicey-nice platitudes. The result of this wilfull blindness about the reality that is Iran:
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, is dying of cancer. But he is convinced that his legacy will be glorious. He believes that thousands of his Revolutionary Guards intelligence officers effectively control southern Iraq, and that the rest of the country is at his mercy, since we present no challenge to them — even along the Iraq/Iran border, where they operate with impunity. They calmly plan their next major assault without having to worry about American retribution. The mullahs have thousands of intelligence officers all over Iraq, as well as a hard core of Hezbollah terrorists — including the infamous Imadh Mughniyah, arguably the region’s most dangerous killer — and they control the major actors, from Zarqawi to Sadr to the Badr Brigades.
Khamenei and his top cronies believe they have effectively won. They think the U.S. is politically paralyzed, thanks to the relentless attacks of President Bush’s opponents and the five-year long internal debate about Iran policy, and thus there is no chance of an armed attack, even one limited to nuclear sites. They think Israel is similarly paralyzed by Sharon’s sudden departure and the triumph of their surrogate force, Hamas, in the Palestinian elections. They despise the Europeans, and hardly even bother to pretend to negotiate with them any more. They believe they have a strong strategic alliance with the Russians and they think they have the Chinese over a barrel, since the Chinese are so heavily dependent on Iranian oil. Recent statements from Beijing and Moscow regarding the chance of U.N. sanctions will have reinforced the Supreme Leader’s convictions.
I tend to think that, unless there is a sea change, Khamenei's won, because we refuse to recognize that there is a fight. The West is not even engaged in a principled — albeit stupid — effort at passive resistance to claim the moral high ground. Instead, the West (the U.S., the UN, Europe) is monkeying around, pretending that nothing is happening.
The historian Arnold Toynbee believed that all civilizations have lifespans. I always thought that the modern Western world would quietly fade away over centuries, as Rome did. It never occurred to me that we'd short circuit the process by killing ourselves — not in the nuclear Holocaust everyone envisioned during the First Cold War — but simply by exposing ourselves to imminent death by a thousand cuts.